How technology can help solicitors succeed in a fixed-cost legal landscape

How technology can help solicitors succeed in a fixed-cost legal landscape

On 31 January 2022, the Department of Health (DoH) published a proposal that would see fixed recoverable costs (FRC) in medical negligence claims capped at £25,000. The DoH stated that:

“The proposal to introduce FRC for lower value clinical negligence claims is a key part of the government’s approach to address the rising costs of clinical negligence and ensure greater consistency and fairness for claimants and defendants (predominantly the NHS) when people have been harmed.”

The issue of FRC capping is naturally highly controversial. In the case of medical negligence claims, the NHS, already buckling under the needs of an ageing population and two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, wants to reduce its expenditure on negligence claims. In January 2020, following reports that the NHS faced paying out £4.3bn in legal fees to settle outstanding medical negligence claims, the DoH vowed to tackle “the unsustainable rise in the cost of clinical negligence”. FRC provides a vehicle for achieving this ambition.

On the other side of the debate, solicitors and barristers argue that applying FRC across all low-value medical negligence claims could see many patients denied justice. There has also been fierce criticism directed at the NHS for often refusing to accept liability and prolonging cases where negligence is abundantly clear. Not only do such tactics result in emotional trauma for claimants and their families (one solicitor told us that few claimants have any idea of the ruthlessness of an NHS Trust when defending negligence claims) but also it can result in solicitors being unable to recover costs in situations where the value of the claim is low but the complexity of the case is high and/or the defendant drags out the case for years.

Fortunately, there is technology available to simplify and consolidate the process of creating a defence. Investing in such cloud-based technology not only allows litigation departments to take on more billable work without increasing demands on employees, but it also provides a tool to eliminate cost-wasting tasks and procedures, including double-handling of data, manually searching through documents for a particular term, checking junior team members’ work, and creating case bundles from scratch.

Before examining in detail how case preparation systems can reduce the risks of being unable to recoup costs, let’s quickly set out how FRC has become such a hot topic.

A brief background to FRC reforms

The FRC proposals for medical negligence claims are part of a broader package of reforms to extend fixed recoverable costs in civil cases. In July 2017, Sir Rupert Jackson published his report on extending FRC. This resulted in a 2019 consultation by the Ministry of Justice on widening FRC to all cases (excluding medical negligence) within the fast track up to £25,000, as well as implementing a new regime for ‘intermediate’ (currently multi-track) cases up to £100,000. In September 2021, a report detailing the next steps for implementing an FRC scheme was published. The Ministry of Justice will collaborate with the Civil Procedure Rules Committee to ensure the smooth implementation of the reforms.

It is clear that FRC is seen as a way to mitigate the risks of skyrocketing costs owing to the amount of eDisclosure that must be recovered, collated, analysed, and produced for any significant case heading to court in 2022. If this is the future, therefore, solicitors need access to the tools required to protect their interests and those of their clients.

Using technology to keep work within an FRC budget

To ensure the amount of time you spend on a particular matter stays within the level of recoverable costs, litigation teams need something more bespoke than a firm-wide case management system. What is required is a system that allows you to prepare and present a case.

Case preparation and presentation systems allow litigation teams to:

  • Work remotely, wherever internet access is available.
  • At a glance, see a summary of your case documents.
  • Quickly scan through thousands of documents for specific keywords, names, phrases and dates
  • Identify key causes of action and link supporting data and evidence.
  • Review, annotate, highlight, tag, and redact documents onscreen as opposed to wading through hard copy or PDF documents.
  • Re-order and hide pages within documents.
  • Provide all stakeholders in the case with access, including clients and expert witnesses. Senior partners can quickly review work completed by junior solicitors.
  • Create a fully searchable, paginated, court compliant bundle without having to resort to using additional software or PDFs.

Every one of these features saves multiple hours, providing confidence to litigation teams that they can manage even a complex case involving tens of thousands of documents within a recoverable budget. Furthermore, investing in this technology provides clients with the assurance that they are paying their legal team to advise on the law and provide creative solutions as opposed to spending the bulk of their billable hours on administrative tasks.

Wrapping up

Ever since the Jackson Reforms came into force in 2013, legal professionals have been forced to build cases in a strict cost control environment. All signs are pointing to cost control demands increasing, whilst at the same time, clients demand more from solicitors than ever before. Investing in case preparation and presentation software will provide the tools required to keep legal costs within a recoverable budget and deliver the level of quality legal advice and representation your clients expect.

To find out how case preparation and presentation software can help your team streamline their workflow, contact HyperLaw on +44 (0) 1785 241492 or email

On average, our customers can save up to 30% on costs by using HyperLaw. See how much you could save…
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