The Dentist Magazine.

“Proposals to cap legal costs do not go far enough”

Published: 02/08/2017

Recommendations to establish a working party to examine fixing costs for clinical negligence claims valued at up to £25,000 do not go far enough to reduce the burden of litigation on the NHS, says the Dental Defence Union (DDU).

Responding to Lord Justice Jackson’s review of Civil Litigation Costs, the DDU said it was disappointed with the proposals which were a missed opportunity to make claimant’s legal costs more proportionate to compensation paid to patients.

John Makin, head of the DDU, said, “This review is the latest in a series of consultations that have taken place on the issue of how to make costs more proportionate to compensation paid to patients. Each time, the proposals seem to be more watered down. This review of litigation costs is no exception and is likely to further delay implementation. 

“Patients who believe they have been negligently harmed must have access to justice, but fixed costs are fairer and could, and indeed should, be applied to all cases valued at up to £250,000.

“In lower-value claims, claimant lawyers’ fees are still, on average, above the level of damages awarded and that cannot be right. If these proposals are only applied to the lowest value cases then the problem will not be fully addressed.

“The rising tide of litigation is having a dramatic effect on the dental profession and the NHS more widely. The current system makes no sense and creates too many perverse incentives. It needs root and branch reform.”

The MDU, the parent company of the DDU, is campaigning for legal reform of compensation claims. Find out more at www.themdu.com/about-mdu/fair-compensation