Brindley Twist Tafft and James hold a Legal Services Commission franchise which allows us to offer Legal Aid in appropriate circumstances to investigate matters of Clinical Negligence. Those circumstances include clients with very limited means who may not be able to have their treatment independently investigated without the benefit of public funds through the Legal Aid system.
The Act, which comes into force 1 April 2013, abolishes the Legal Services Commission which currently administers Legal Aid and transfers those powers to the Lord Chancellor. In reality those powers will be administered by the “Director of Legal Aid Casework” with the assistance of civil servants within an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice. The operation will be a massively scaled down version of its predecessor.
Across the board it is estimated that around 600,000 people per year will no longer have access to Legal Aid once the Act comes into force. It is our understanding that Legal Aid for Clinical Negligence will be limited to babies that have suffered brain damages within the first 8 weeks of life, or within 8 weeks from gestation week 37 if they have been born prematurely. A baby suffering brain damage from 8 weeks and 1 day will not automatically fall within the scope of the provisions and nor will any other type of clinical negligence claim. Legal Aid which has been granted prior to 1 April 2013 will be unaffected.
There are limited powers to apply for Legal Aid in exceptional cases but it is wholly unclear as to what the criteria is for such a qualification. What is clear is that the vast majority of those who would qualify for legal Aid on 31 March 2013 are unlikely to do so from the following day.
There are potentially other funding options, but anyone who believes they may have a claim which could be funded under the current Legal Aid regime is urged to contact us immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org.