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I don’t want to sound like a stuck record, but the inconsistent, and often incoherent, anti-Jackson rhetoric shows no signs of abating.
The Access to Justice Action Group (AJAG) recently issued a press release with the headline “Jackson reforms set to costs NHS £105.55 million”. Now, you’ve never seen such a selective and garbled use of statistics in your life for them to arrive at this figure but let’s take it at face value and accept entirely the claims made in the press release (and you can check that this is really what it says).
The methodology starts by giving their “robust estimate of a 25% fall in cases”. (It’s not quite clear what this is based on, or, indeed, where this figures disappears to in the following analysis).
It then proceeds to explain the “role of CFA funding (including success fees and ATE) in weeding out unmeritorious claims is well illustrated from the statistics for clinical negligence. … This demonstrates that the checks in CFA cases weed out a higher proportion of unmeritorious cases than other forms of funding. QOCS will not deliver that review, so even on these figures there could be at least 12% more unsuccessful cases under QOCS which the NHSLA would have to deal with at a cost to them, even if those cases fail to secure damages”.
So, we can expect a 12% increase in unsuccessful claims compared to current numbers.
They then continue:
“The impact assessment makes clear that its assumptions do not take account of the incentivisation of more cases being pursued under the Government plans for QOCS; or the proportion of cases funded by CFA, which has now been established at 2/3rds. If on a conservative estimate only half of those claims presently weeded out by ATE proceed, the potential increase in claims will be up to 1/3rd more, as 2/3rds of cases are presently funded that way. And even if only half of these succeed (and the success rate can be expected to be higher than that), then that will be an increase of just over 15% in costs on successful cases (4% more than predicted savings); to which can be added the additional 10% in general damages (c 1% of the overall total litigation bill). Defence legal costs under the present system are estimated in the impact assessment of the overall total at 9%. If there is an increase of 1/3rd in cases, that would represent an increase equivalent to 3% of current costs”.
Are you with them so far? They are confidently predicting an increase in clinical negligence claims of 1/3rd compared to current levels and that the “success rate can be expected to be higher than” 50%.
In case you think something has been missed here, the press releases makes clear the figures are arrived at by assuming: “there is an increase in the number of cases of 1/3rd as we predict”.
So, far from the Jackson reforms meaning that those injured through clinical negligence will no longer be able to find solicitors willing to represent them, the AJAG now inform us that more claims will be brought and more will succeed.
Perhaps the Bill should be renamed the Access to Justice Bill Mark II.
Perhaps the AJAG should stop issuing press releases before they do any more harm to their campaign.