Response to Government Announcement 21 June to Removal of Legal Aid
Ewan Lockhart, Head of the specialist clinical negligence department at Davies and Partners Solicitors spoke out today about the government’s decision to stop legal aid for people who want to bring compensation claims for medical negligence.
“Removing legal aid from those who have been injured or killed as a result of negligent medical treatment is grossly unjust. Many of the weakest and poorest members of society will be affected. How can a family coping with a severely disabled child be expected to find the money to pay for the medical experts required to investigate a claim? Expert reports in birth injury cases cost thousands of pounds. The government has cynically calculated that many people will be put off making claims. Those who do make claims will have to enter into Conditional Fee Agreements, so-called “No win, no fee” agreements. The price of these under new government proposals will be that some compensation will be used to pay legal costs. It cannot be right to take money from those injured through no fault of their own.”
The Ministry of Justice announced Legal Aid cutbacks on 21 June 2011. These include removing Legal Aid in clinical negligence cases. Legal Aid will continue for those who have already been granted a certificate, but new applications will not be accepted from when the act comes into force, which is likely to be in the early part of 2012.
Ewan Lockhart urged people who think they may have a case not to delay. “If you think you may have a claim you should contact a specialist solicitor quickly. Legal Aid is still available for those who qualify financially – including most children and those on benefits – as long as they can also show that they have a potentially worthwhile claim.”
The clinical negligence team at Davies and Partners has a national reputation. Cases are run by 13 specialist solicitors based at its offices in Bristol, Gloucester and Birmingham. 7 of the team are on the specialist panels for the Law Society and Action against Medical Accidents.