West -v- Stockport NHS Foundation Trust
The Judgment has provided eagerly-awaited clarity in relation to the assessment of the reasonableness and proportionality of ATE premiums in cases brought post LASPO.
We have seen a significant number of cases stayed pending this decision, we are hopeful that this decision will now draw a line under challenges to the reasonableness and proportionality of block-rated ATE premiums for clinical negligence claims post LASPO.
The Court provided the parties with two key reasons why reducing a premium on the grounds of proportionality was inappropriate. The first reason provided by the Court was that reasonable block-rated premiums had no direct relationship to the value of a given claim and the second reason provided was that ATE insurance was essential to access to justice in clinical negligence matters. Access to justice has long been an issue and one that was championed by many when the LASPO reforms came in. However, the Court have also said that a paying party is not automatically bound to accept the reasonableness of a premium claimed. The fact that the ATE insurance provides access to justice, does not mean that the relevant premium must automatically be regarded as reasonable. So, whilst undoubtedly this decision is a real positive for Claimants this does not mean that there is an open cheque book in respect of the level of those premiums.
What impact does this have?
- We would hope to see the significant number of cases stayed pending this decision now be concluded by paying parties.
- It is anticipated that there will be less challenges to the block rated policy’s given the fact that the Court expressly stated that a simple comparison between the value of the claim (either the claim made or the settlement sum) and the amount of the premium paid is not a reliable measure of the reasonableness of the ATE insurance premium which has previously been a common argument advanced by Defendant’s.
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