The Department of Health has recently launched a consultation into fixed recoverable costs in clinical negligence claims. The consultation closes at 11.45pm on 1st May 2017.

This long awaited consultation seeks views on the government's proposal to introduce a mandatory system of Fixed Recoverable Costs (FRC) for lower value clinical negligence claims. The proposed scheme would apply across the NHS as well as private healthcare providers. It will only relate to England and Wales.

The annual costs of clinical negligence in the NHS in England has risen to £1.5 billion in 2015/16. Last year Claimant recoverable costs were 220% of damages awarded in clinical negligence claims between £1,000 and £25,000. The proposed scheme is a key strand of the government's programme to improve patient care and patient experience by making clinical negligence legal claims more efficient and cost-effective.

The proposed scheme would apply to clinical negligence claims above £1,000 and up to £25,000. The government's aim is to ensure that patients maintain access to justice by streamlining the system and incentivising early resolution of such claims. Various proposals are set out in the consultation and views are sought on the following:

  1. Whether FRC should be introduced on a mandatory basis.
  2. Whether the limits of £1,000 - £25,000 claims should be changed.
  3. The method and timing of introduction.
  4. How FRC rates should be calculated.
  5. How expert witness costs should be treated.
  6. The concept of both Claimant and Defendant having a Single Joint Expert.
  7. Proposed rule changes supporting early exchange of evidence and behavioural change.
  8. Whether there is further evidence, including within the private sector, that the government should consider.

The consultation can be found here.

It is important that stakeholders respond to the consultation, which will be considered by the government before policy and rules are finalised.