An experienced district judge has ruled it is ‘irrelevant’ how medical reporting costs are broken down, as the debate over non-party disclosure takes another turn.
In a judgment from April which was shown to the Gazette this week, District Judge Jenkinson ruled in Sephton v Anchor Hanover Group that the court should assess whether the extent of recoverable disbursements is reasonable and proportionate, rather than how they are broken down.
The decision is in contrast to a recent ruling in the county court in Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust v Hoskin, where His Honour Judge Bird ordered a full breakdown of expert fees.
It is understood that decision is being appealed, so it is likely that the higher courts will soon be required to resolve the extent to which insurers can see the figures behind invoices from personal injury claimants.
In Sephton, heard at the county court at Liverpool, the underlying public liability claim had been settled and it was common ground that the claimant was entitled to recover fixed costs and disbursements from the defendant.
But the defendant argued it was only required to pay the medical practitioners’ costs of assessing the claimant’s injuries, and not any additional charge paid to the agency involved, Target Medical Solutions Limited.
The defendant initially wanted disclosure of documents relating to five invoices submitted by the agency, although this was whittled down to just one particular invoice, for an MRI scan.
Describing the issue as ‘vague’ at the moment, Jenkinson said he would not have ordered disclosure of the invoices, adding that his powers of discretion did not extend to this. ‘The claimant is only entitled to recover the reasonable costs,’ he said. ‘How that is apportioned between the provider and the agency is of limited, if any, relevance and in those circumstances.’
He said it was 'not appropriate' to endorse non-party disclosure applications being made against medical agencies to establish the reasonable and proportionate cost of an MRI scan.
The defendant’s application for non-party disclosure was dismissed.
This article is now closed for comment.
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