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Supplementary legal aid scheme will not go ahead

View profile for Judith Thomas-Whittingham
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The Ministry of Justice has announced they will not proceed with implementation of the proposed Supplementary Legal Aid Scheme in April 2013. 

The scheme threatened general damages, those which compensate for pain and suffering, by suggesting that the amount of general damages awarded in publically-funded Clinical Negligence cases should be reduced by a quarter.

This is the most recent development in the public funding scandal. As a direct result of the changes to the scope of publically funded cases, the implementation of the scheme would have most affected brain damaged children.

Chief Executive, Peter Walsh, from Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA), a patient safety charity commented: “It beggars belief that their predecessors were prepared to raid the damages of children brain-damaged by clinical negligence to subsidise their department.”

Its proposers hoped that the scheme would help to recover some of the Government’s expenditure on public funding which averages just over £2 billion per year. 

The scheme was criticised for its misdirection of recoupment, with figures from 2008-2009 showing that £0.9 billion of public funding went to civil cases and more than 50% of the expenditure went towards paying for solicitors in criminal trials. 

The news to scrap the scheme comes following a ministerial reshuffle, which saw Chris Grayling appointed as the Secretary of State for Justice on 4 September 2012. 

Peter Walsh from AvMA shared his views on the breakthrough: “We are grateful to the new ministers at the Ministry of Justice for recognising the gross unfairness and irrationality of their predecessors' plans. We hope that this more enlightened approach will lead to further changes to protect access to justice for victims of clinical negligence.”

By Charlotte Goonan