Reports have been emerging that no win no fee lawyers may be making off with legal fees that positively dwarf their clients’ personal injury compensation awards.
Medical negligence compensation cases were found to be the most lucrative for personal injury solicitors, an example being the £61,268 paid out to the legal team of a family of a patient that died in hospital who only received a £2,000 compensation award. With the fees incurred by the NHS in defending the claim amounting to £31,541, the total cost was in excess of £92,000 – a figure that has left legal experts up in arms.
If that wasn’t bad enough, it was revealed that another case saw the NHS litigation authority billed for more than £200,000 in court costs by personal injury solicitors on a £5,000 negligence claim. The NHS was able to negotiate the legal fees down to £145,000, but with the £32,700 in costs incurred by defending the claim, their total costs were massive in comparison to the actual payout awarded to the claimant.
These ‘extraordinary’ figures are likely to be coming to an end soon, said the Ministry of Justice, thanks to the new Legal Aid Act and the reforms made to no win no fee claims under it. However, the new Act will not go into effect until April of 2013, which means that up until then, solicitors can continue to charge the NHS Litigation Authority immensely high success fees.
Despite the new limitations to be placed on solicitors, which include limiting their ability to recover success fees from their clients’ compensation payments, there are worries that lawyers will attempt to draw out the length of cases in order to inflate their costs.