The NHSLA published its annual report on 4 August 2011. Last year:
(a) it faced 8,655 clinical negligence claims, an increase from 6,652 the year before (up about 30.11%);
(b) of those, 5,398 cases were settled with only about 4% being resolved by litigation; and
(c) it paid out £729,100,000 pursuant to these, which was an increase from £651,000,000 the year before;
The report welcomes the introduction of the reforms recommended by the Jackson Review and laments the increased costs they have been facing claimed by claimant solicitors. It states:
“We paid over £257m in total legal costs, of which almost £200m (76% of the total costs expenditure) was paid to claimant lawyers... we paid over £257m in total legal costs, of which almost £200m (76% of the total costs expenditure) was paid to claimant lawyers.”
The Report raises many issues. Two of note would be:
(a) Why has there been this recorded increase in claims? Are doctors becoming more negligent, or is our culture simply becoming increasingly litigious and the legal markets have facilitated this? Has the Recession contributed to this?
(b) Whilst they will undoubtedly assist in maintaining proportionality between damages and costs, how will the Jackson Reforms (particularly the irrecovarability of CFA uplifts from unsuccessful defendants), affect access to justice?
The Report is available at: