The ministry has decided to back down on the plan to take a quarter of medical negligence competence which is awarded in cases of general damages. The government has backed down on the Supplementary Legal Aid Scheme as it is claimed that it will hit parents of brain injured kids the most. The Ministry of Justice has decided to take back the plan which was supposed to provide the government with 25% of damages which are usually awarded to those people who use legal aid. Parents, and their children in particular, who have become victims of medical negligence are awarded with certain amount which is particularly designed to help them.
In cases of medical negligence, parents are awarded with certain amount so that they can take care of their children in the years to come. The Supplementary Legal Aid Scheme that the government back down on would have hit those parents the hardest and the amount of compensation that they would have potentially lost amounts to tens and even hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The Supplementary Legal Aid Scheme was the government latest attempt in reducing the legal aid budget. Legal aid represents a taxpayer-funded service which is supposed to help those people in need of legal guidance and representation, but who cannot afford to pay for it. In 2008/2009 around £2.1 billion was said to have been spent on legal aid. According to the Ministry of Justice, about £10 million pounds a year could have been taken back only if the proposed powers have been put into practice. The MoJ also added that £9 million out of the £10 million pounds would have come from negligence cases.
The plan for the government taking a portion of medical negligence compensation faced a lot of criticism. The charity Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) is said to be the leader of the charge. A month ago, the charity launched a petition and claimed that the changes would result in making the clinical negligence claims look “unrealistic” through legal aid. The charity also accused the government of “scrapping legal aid for all clinical negligence cases through the back door”.
However, the Chief Exec of AvMA Peter Walsh recently announced that the recently appointed ministers at the MoJ have recognized “the gross unfairness and irrationality” of the plan that was being proposed. He also added that “it beggars belief that their predecessors were prepared to raid the damages of children brain-damaged by clinical negligence to subsidise their department”.
In spite of everything, a spokesman from the Ministry of Justice has announced that there are more cuts yet to come. He stated that with the amount reaching £2bn per year, the UK government has one of the most expensive legal aid systems worldwide. Given the current financial crises around the globe and in the UK, it is no longer possible for the government to continue to afford this. A cut of £320 million on legal aid is expected by 2014-2015.
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