Healthcare Brief: market insights – March 2024

A summary of key developments relating to the Judicial College Guidelines; a call for evidence on the personal injury discount rate in England and Wales; the Civil Justice Council’s consultation on determining mental capacity in civil proceedings; the Justice Committee’s call for evidence on the Coroner Service; and the introduction of Martha’s Rule.

17th edition of the Judicial College Guidelines published

The 17th edition of the Judicial College ‘Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases’ has been published. For this edition, the updated figures - based on the Retail Price Index in August 2023 (being the latest RPI figure available at the time the edition was finalised) - represent a significant increase of up to approximately 22%, with any inflation since August 2023 to also be added on.

Contact: Christopher Malla

Personal injury discount rate in England and Wales – a second call for evidence

At a stakeholder event on 28 November 2023 hosted by the Ministry of Justice, a second call for evidence on the personal injury discount rate (PIDR) in England and Wales was discussed. This call for evidence was launched on 16 January 2024.

The call for evidence does not suggest or recommend a preferred PIDR model/rate(s). Rather, it focuses on gathering as much empirical data as possible to assist the expert panel with advising the Lord Chancellor with further understanding claimants’ likely return on investment.

In terms of next steps, the consultation will close on 9 April 2024 and a response document will be published later in April. The data gathered from this exercise will inform the next formal review of the rate which must commence by 15 July 2024.

Contact: Christopher Malla

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Under review: the procedure for determining mental capacity in civil proceedings

A Civil Justice Council (CJC) consultation on the procedure for determining mental capacity in civil proceedings closed on 17 March 2024.

A CJC working group was tasked with considering “how the Civil Courts approach mental capacity, with regard to the procedure and common practice used to determine whether a party lacks capacity to conduct proceedings (i.e. is a protected party within the meaning of Part 21 CPR)”. In addition, to “make recommendations to improve rules, practice directions or other matters”.

Issues identified and provisional proposals include how capacity is brought to the attention of the court, and who should be responsible for investigating it; the evidence required to determine capacity; and steps that should be taken pending the court determining capacity.

Having submitted a response to the consultation we await the CJC's findings with interest.

Contacts: Rob Tobin and Daniel Freeman

Justice Committee call for evidence on the Coroner Service

A Justice Committee inquiry examining changes made to the Coroner Service since 2021, to assess whether progress has been made following earlier recommendations for improvement made by the Committee.

The Committee invited evidence on matters that included, among several others, progress made “towards the goal of placing bereaved families at the heart of the Coroner Service”, whether further steps can be taken “to make best use of the Coroner Service’s role in learning lessons and preventing future deaths”, and the duration of inquests.

Having submitted a response to the call for evidence - which closed on 15 January 2024 - we await the Committee’s findings with interest.

Contacts: Daniel Freeman and Rob Tobin

Martha’s Rule: early intervention protecting patients and clinicians

Following recommendations made by the Patient Safety Commissioner to the UK Government, Martha’s Rule, will be implemented in the NHS by way of a phased approach, the first phase starting in April 2024 and continuing through 2024 and 2025.

Martha’s Rule will aid the obtaining of a second medical opinion, by this being an automatic right when hospital care is of concern and a patient’s condition is deteriorating.

Contact: Ed Glasgow

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