Cheshire, United Kingdom, (6th March 2012) – Fosters Solicitors, a leading no win no fee personal injury solicitor, comment on changes to the way solicitors act for children in small claims, following a Court of Appeal costs ruling last week.
In the ruling, the court itself recognised that its judgement could discourage many solicitors from acting for injured children at all. The court ruled that children should not be allowed ‘full’ recovery of costs in cases settling below the small claims threshold, which is £1,000 in personal injury cases.
Giving the judgment in the linked cases of Dockerill & Healey vs. Tullett and Macefield vs. Bakos, involving minor injury claims, Lord Justice Patten said that where a child’s damages fall below the small claims threshold, the costs should be assessed by reference to the small claims track; where the legal costs are fixed as low as £80. This makes it impractical for injured children to find a solicitor to act for them, and leaves them to try and pursue their own claim or deal directly with the insurer – without any legal advice.
Before the judgement, it had been possible for children with injury claims of less than £1,000 to secure payment of their legal costs in recognition of the special considerations that there are for a child in pursuing a claim against an insurer, business or council with its own legal representation.
The court said that only in exceptional cases could a child claimant recover legal costs; the test being whether it was “sufficiently complex to have justified the engagement of solicitors beyond the production of a report on the merits of the settlement”.
Lord Justice Patten commented: “I am very conscious that the practical consequence of this ruling may be to discourage solicitors from taking on [children’s injury small claims], because they are unlikely in many such cases to be able to recover their costs.”
Defendant insurers welcomed the rulings, which will reduce the legal costs incurred on small low value injury cases for children, and will likely also lead to a reduction in the number of claims brought by injured children. The judgement echoes the insurers’ current efforts to attack what it regards as a “compensation culture”, by reducing legal costs in an effort to discourage people from bringing low value claims for injury.
If your child is injured in a road accident or in a public place – sustaining injuries such as small cuts, grazes and sprains, which recover within a couple of weeks – it may now be harder to recover any compensation for your child for the injury sustained.
Iain Stark, chairman of the Association of Costs Lawyers, said: “On the face of it, this appears to deny access to justice for another group and is akin to the reduction in the availability of public funding.”
Fosters Solicitors commented: “Despite the ruling, we will always continue to do the best we can for injured claimants of whatever age. Although some solicitors may turn away children’s claims in future, we would encourage any parent or guardian who is looking to pursue a claim for injury for a child to contact Fosters Solicitors directly. We can consider the best way of ensuring that injured children continue to be compensated for their injury, despite the best efforts of the insurers – now supported by this court ruling – to deny them such a right.”
To make a claim with Fosters Solicitors, please visit www.fosterssolicitors.com or call 0151 342 9828.
About Fosters Solicitors:
Fosters Solicitors was formed by Mark Foster in 2005 with the sole purpose to offer justice to people who have suffered injuries through an accident that was not their fault. Fosters Solicitors specialises in personal injury claims and guarantee 100% compensation, offering a ‘No Win, No Fee’ service. Their team of expert injury lawyers are paid by the insurers themselves, so clients receive every penny of the compensation awarded to them.
Zip: CH64 7TS
Tel: 0151 342 9828