In cases of medical negligence, 60% of the money paid out by the NHS Litigation Authority goes to medical negligence solicitors and only 40% is paid out in compensation. Reforming the system will save the NHS an estimated £50 million in legal fees.
The coalition now intends to reverse the changes the previous government made to the no win no fee system in 1999. Jonathan Djanogly, the justice minister, explained that by so doing, personal injury solicitors will have to be more careful and only select genuine cases where they can expect to see a positive result for the claimant.
The government is also going to expand the online system that deals with road traffic accidents claims to include clinical negligence and personal injury claims. People will be able to lodge a claim for personal injury compensation up to £50,000 online and it is hoped this will lead to an increase in the number of cases resolved by mediation. It has been estimated that 90% (680,000 cases) of claims could go through the online system.
The top limit for small claims is to be increased to £15,000 from the current £5,000 and this should reduce the number of cases that go to court.
However, these government measures have not been welcomed in certain quarters. Andrew Dismore, from the Access to Justice Action Group, said they spell bad news for claimants. 25% will no longer get the compensation they are entitled to and 75% will lose up to a quarter of their settlement in legal bills.