Page 16 - PIC-Magazine-Issue-22-Spring-Summer
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             ended with a bang; the introduction of fixed recoverable costs (FRC) in relation to lots of claim types that had not been subject to the fairly rigid strictures of fixed costs before, coupled with expansion of them into much more valuable claims; the announcement
that the government would be proceeding with the introduction of fixed costs in relation to low value clinical negligence claims; and at least one piece of good news for those bringing claims on behalf of injured parties, an increase in the guideline hourly rates with effect from the 1st January 2024. Like the unseasonably good weather at the start of Covid, we might be reminded of a corruption of Corinthians 10:13, that the universe conspires to ensure we suffer only what we can endure. So there’s that.
What then does 2024 have in store? FRC were of course part of a package, changes made not just to costs but also to case management procedures, notably introduction of the new intermediate track and the creation of complexity bands. Over the coming year practitioners will be able
to see how the Courts get to grips with these new procedures, and how malleable the guidance at CPR 26.15 and 26.16 in relation to assignment to track is in the hands of the Court. Also of keen interest will be how frequently the Court exercises its powers to limit costs in multiple claimant claims, where, per CPR 45.5, it may choose to
order that only one full set of FRC be allowed, plus 25% of those costs for each additional claimant.
Whether FRC will be introduced for lower value (less than £25,000) clinical negligence claims in April 2024 remains to be seen; there are suggestions that it was always far too an aggressive target to hit after a long period of reflection by the Department of Health and Social Care following closure of the consultation (it closed in April 2022 with no further official comment until publication of the formal response in September 2023), after all, clear and uncluttered rule drafting takes time. However,
if or when new rules are introduced, practitioners will be on the lookout for how they interact with the FRC rules applicable from October 2023 which would apply to a clinical negligence claim where both breach of duty
and causation had been admitted.
The government’s response to the consultation acknowledged the additional costs that may be
necessary when dealing with claims on behalf of
children or protected parties and gave recommendations for increased ‘bolt-on’ allowances for dealing with such claims, which is welcome, and practitioners will want to give close consideration to the amounts of additional work those allowances might permit. However, whilst claims involving stillbirths and neonatal deaths are excluded
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