Access to Justice: What the 2013 changes mean for you!

On 1st April 2013, the law relating to Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence claims changed.

Before April 2013, if you brought a claim for Personal Injury or Clinical Negligence and were successful you would receive 100% of your compensation ‘in your pocket’. This was because the solicitor’s fees were recoverable from your opponent (or rather, their insurance company).

However, as of April 2013, this is no longer the case. Only part of your legal costs are recoverable from your opponent if you are successful, but not all.

Claimants now stand to lose up to 25% of their compensation in legal fees.

What this Means For You

What this means is that valid but low-value claims will no longer be taken on by solicitors under a ‘No Win, No Fee’ agreement.

The reason for this is a simple one, money.

No one wants to work for free, and while certain people and groups will talk at length about greedy legal professionals. Those greedy legal professionals still have families to feed the same as everyone else; they cannot afford to work for free (although quite a lot of them do volunteer at pro bono clinics).

The same way you wouldn’t expect a plumber to come in and fix your leaking pipe free of charge you cannot expect a legal professional to run your claim free of charge.

But they are not doing it for free they are getting 25% of the compensation.

Unfortunately, if your claim is of a low value 25% of the compensation is unlikely to cover the amount of work done.

In brief, there is a lot of work involved in bringing a claim, especially if it is a claim for Clinical Negligence. Your solicitor needs to spend a lot of his or her time working on your claim and time is money. Solicitors charge an hourly rate, and if they have to spend 30/40 hours working on your claim, this can total a hefty sum (dependant on the grade and experience of the solicitor or other legal professional working on your claim). When that solicitor knows your injury is valid but low value he or she is not going to be able to spend hours working on it when they know in effect, they will not be paid for the majority of the work done.

25% of £2,000 compensation does not pay for 30 hours of work.

The result of this is that low value but perfectly valid claims will be rejected by legal firms, leaving a large portion of the population without legal representation or advice.

Access to Justice is now restricted to those who have suffered high-value injuries or those who have the wealth to pay privately.

Conclusion

Overall this paints the picture of a system where Access to Justice is no longer the most important consideration. Rather protecting insurance companies and employers seem to be the top consideration now.