Friday, September 30, 2011

CAN THE LORDS RESUSCITATE LEGAL AID IN CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE?

As the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill (“the Bill”) makes its way through parliament, it seems that support to keep Legal Aid in Scope for Clinical Negligence is gaining momentum.

Lord Justice Jackson, author of the somewhat controversial changes to Conditional Fee Agreements, which alongside the proposed cuts to Legal Aid, create a double whammy effect to funding, has himself spoken out.  He comments that Legal Aid should be retained, especially in matters of Clinical Negligence.

AvMA has also launched its own attack on the decision to cut this funding lifeline, by commencing Judicial Review proceedings challenging the decision at grass roots, citing the MOJ’s decision as based on unfair and irrational criteria (see press release).

Now, the Lords have joined the debate.   The Law Society Gazette (29 September 2011, page 3) reports that Lord Carlile of Berriew QC (Liberal Democrat) believes that there will be enough support from all sides to change the Bill.  Lord Carlile adds “Clinical Negligence cases are an example …in which disbursements would work up front; cases in which you don’t know you’re going to have a successful claim, all you can say is there might be one until some expert evidence has been obtained.” (Law Society Gazette, 29 September 2011, page 3).

This is echoed by Tom Brake MP (also Liberal Democrat) who shares a sympathetic approach in keeping Clinical Negligence in Scope, hinting at what appears to be the inevitable scrutiny of the Bill by the Lords.

Our Blog previously reported (03 March 2011) the Judiciary’s condemnation of the removal of Legal Aid funding in Clinical Negligence citing “potential injustice for a small group of vulnerable Claimants if the present proposal is implemented” (para 47, Report).

Let’s make sure this momentum keeps building and bring the issue of access to justice to the forefront of debate.

AvMA has been working hard to get the message out that access to justice will undoubtedly be compromised should the changes stand.  Please see our media coverage links below:


STOP PRESS!! BBC Radio Four “You and Yours” will be discussing Clinical Negligence and Legal Aid on Monday 03 October 2011. Peter Walsh from AvMA will be being interviewed at approximately 12:30.

Also visit the campaign section of our website to find out how the changes will effect you and what you can do to help

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