NHS Resolution lawyers and probate delay blame: your letters to the editor

Wrong prescription for paying lawyers

Dr Anthony Barton’s article ‘Clinical negligence: a no win, no fee success story’ (15 August) makes for an interesting read, but his points are misplaced.

NHS Resolution has long used fixed and capped fees for its lawyers and in this way secures value for money for the NHS as a bulk purchaser of specialist legal services. Dr Barton’s suggestion that we should reward our defence lawyers on a success basis would be morally wrong. Our lawyers are rewarded in a way designed to achieve a fair resolution and to do so in an efficient way. To reward them on the basis of a successful defence would be wholly inconsistent with our objectives and not in the interests of those patients who have good reason to claim.

It is in the interests of NHS patients and taxpayers to use all methods at our disposal to improve patient safety and reduce the significant cost burden on the NHS, which is what we aim to do. Incentivising the wrong behaviour and misrepresenting the facts will not help achieve these aims.


Helen Vernon

Chief executive, NHS Resolution


HMCTS not seeking to avoid responsibility 

Your article, originally headlined ‘Solicitors to blame for probate delays – HMCTS (28 August), did not fairly represent the views I set out in a blog that day.

My blog acknowledged the current slowness in probate and apologised directly for it. It set out what HM Courts & Tribunals Service is doing to tackle the issue and suggested ways in which users could help us.

The reasons for the delays were set out. I explained the impact of our new systems, increased work and how processing times are calculated – and we are clear on what we need to do to recover the position. 

Any help that applicants for probate can give us will be welcomed (and a number are already being very supportive, for which I am very grateful) as it will mean we can get back to normal sooner. But please be assured that in asking for help we are not seeking to avoid responsibility for improving both our performance and the overall system.


Jonathan Wood

National services director, HMCTS