NHS Resolution has the opportunity to make representations over all costs budgets.
I read with interest your article ‘LASPO ban is “driving referral fees underground”’ (1 October). As a solicitor representing claimants, I thought it worth putting the claimant’s side over.
NHS Resolution states that it ‘strains credibility that many people living in Newcastle would want to be represented by a firm of solicitors 300 miles away, and therefore we infer that the referring of claims still happens, perhaps on a major scale’. It seems to overlook the modern reality that most claimants look on the internet for their solicitor.
It then makes the accusation that we are out to unfairly maximise our costs without any objective evidence to back up their claim. As claimant lawyers, we set out to obtain for clients their rightful compensation as quickly as possible. The reason that costs rise is because NHS Resolution defends cases for far too long. It loses over 80% of cases where proceedings are issued. NHS Resolution needs to admit liability more quickly, take an earlier and more realistic commercial view of cases, and stop allowing clinicians a veto over settlement. These changes would drive their costs down.
Qualified one-way costs shifting was brought in by the government in 2013 under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act. LASPO was opposed by claimant lawyers. It saves NHS Resolution significant sums due to claimants not being able to recover success fees and through insurance premiums being lower. NHS Resolution cannot have its cake and eat it.
Finally, NHS Resolution has the opportunity to make representations over all costs budgets. If it thinks claimant lawyers are over-inflating the same, it is free to make representations to the courts. Might it just be that district judges across the country do not always share its views?
Lime Solicitors, Leicester