More work needed to control legal costs in compensation claims, says DDU

Some claimant's lawyers are still recovering legal costs that far exceed the compensation their clients receive in clinical negligence cases, the Dental Defence Union (DDU) explained today, as it called for further curbs to disproportionate costs.

Responding to a Ministry of Justice  review of Part 2 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO), which brought in reforms to civil litigation funding and costs, John Makin, head of the DDU said:

'There are signs that reforms aimed at reducing disproportionate claimant's legal costs for dental claims are partly working. In some lower value cases costs have halved but this is not a consistent picture.

'We still see cases where the patient's solicitor's legal costs are far greater than the award their client receives. For example, in one case we paid £5,000 to compensate a patient whose solicitor's costs were £35,000.

'It is not right that in some cases lawyers' costs are still higher than the compensation the patient receives. We need further reform to restore balance to the system.

'The harsh dento-legal climate is not our members' fault and we work hard on their behalf. So far in 2018, we have successfully defended around 60% of dental claims made against our members.'

The MDU, the DDU's parent company, has responded to the review by calling for the continuing disproportion in the cost of after the event (ATE) insurance premiums for expert reports, which defendants still have to pay for, to be addressed. In one case the insurance was £13,000 and the compensation payment was £20,000. In many cases high premiums are offsetting any reduction in claims costs brought about by the LASPO reforms.

This guidance was correct at publication 03/09/2018. It is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

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