Opinion Former Article

Government working party should tackle runaway legal costs, says MDU

The Medical Defence Union (MDU) said today the establishment of a Civil Justice Council working group to consider fixed legal costs in clinical negligence claims is a positive step in tackling runaway legal costs.

Dr Matthew Lee, MDU professional services director, said:

“The announcement of a Civil Justice Council working group to examine excessive legal costs in clinical negligence claims is a delayed but still welcome first step. Proposals to make claimants’ lawyers costs more proportionate to the compensation their clients receive were first mooted back in 2015. We hope that things will move ahead faster now.

“Fixing costs for legal fees will only make a difference if the threshold for clinical negligence claims is set at £250,000, not £25,000 as proposed last year by Lord Justice Jackson.

“Patients who believe they have been negligently harmed must have access to justice, but fixed costs are fairer and will help to establish some much needed balance to the system.

“We will be happy to take part in the working party to represent our members’ views. However, disproportionately high costs charged by claimants’ lawyers are only part of the problem and won’t make enough of a dent in the NHS’s total estimated clinical negligence liabilities of £65bn. The cost of litigation is becoming unaffordable for the medical profession and the NHS. The Government needs to take more decisive action. We urgently need more radical legal reform to restore balance to the system for clinical negligence claims.”

The MDU is campaigning for legal reform of compensation claims.  Find out more about supporting our fair compensation campaign.


The MDU is a not-for-profit organisation wholly dedicated to our members’ interests. Our team is led and staffed by doctors with real-life experience of the pressures and challenges faced in practice.

We offer our members expert guidance, personal support and robust defence in addressing medico-legal issues, complaints and claims. Our customised services range from legal assistance to indemnity to appropriate CPD.


Dawn Boyall, Laura Baker or Thenuka Mahendrarasa in the MDU’s press office

t:     020 7202 1535/1504/1541
m:   07773 772 816/ 07903 192902
e:    dawn.boyall@themdu.com, laura.baker@themdu.com, thenuka.mahendrarasa@themdu.com
w:   themdu.com

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