Thursday, February 9, 2012

Don't be fooled by the promise of exceptional funding

In response to the countless meetings and volumes of correspondence Avma and our members have had with our MPs, ministers, and civil servants at the MOJ over the removal of clinical negligence from the scope of legal aid we have all had a similar response...

'Solicitors will offer clients CFAs and if not £6m will be available via exceptional funding.'

But by definition, experience, and by linking together information contained hidden deep within three very long documents we say this cannot be the answer

Firstly. How can anything that is exceptional provide for the funding of a whole category

Secondly exceptional funding has been around for a long time in theory, for exceptional personal injury claims, and inquests. The experience of our members is almost invariable, they apply but their clients do not get it.

Thirdly and perhaps most importantly is if you join up the dots and add up the figures the outcome for claimants is not good. They could (and in the case of brain damaged children would) end up worse of than with any other sort of funding because the government would take 25% of their damages to pay back to a supplementary legal aid scheme.

As we say you have to look hard and make connections. But in the green paper it is stated £6m is put aside for exceptional funding. In the consultation published in Nov 2010 a table shows £6m could be available from claimants damages if a SLAS were operated and in its response to the consultation pub June 21 2011 at para 33 page 250 the government sets out the proposal that any exceptional funding scheme for clin neg would be funded by a SLAS based on a 25% levy on all damages except future care and loss

Simples - keep legal aid in scope as it presently is or the most seriously injured will pay