It is being widely reported today that Lord Falconer of Thoroton, QC, has come out with the strongest criticism of the proposed fixed fees for Clinical Negligence cases.

Under current plans the Department of Health is looking to extend fixed fees to clinical negligence. Lord Falconer, a lord chancellor in the Blair government, called on the government to “step back” from its proposals and listen to those with day-to-day experience of running clinical negligence claims. He urged ministers to consider alternative plans such as the one laid out by the Society of Clinical Injury Lawyers which encourages early intervention, investigation and most importantly early admission when mistakes are made.

He added: ‘The government proposals would likely backfire as established firms on the claimant side would exit the sector and be replaced by unregulated claim management companies.’

It is easily forgotten that there are no ‘simple’ clinical negligence cases and that claimants are victims of what can often be life changing injuries and should be supported and defended.

Steve Webber, chairman of the SCIL society, said that patient safety and improved practice should be at the centre of any reforms. He added that “Criticising claimant lawyers might be easy, but a culture of ‘deny, delay and defend’ can and must be challenged by the NHS if overall costs are to fall. Legitimate cases must be settled as early as possible and this must be achieved without unnecessary and dangerous changes to the law”.

In 2019 with both claimant and defendant solicitors having access to ‘Specialist Screening’, it should be easier than ever to asses a case’s merits early on, saving the taxpayer money and increasing efficiency within the NHS.