Expertise plays key role in landmark clinical negligence case

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Christine Bunting, Director of Deputyships at Hyphen Law, the specialist Court of Protection deputyships services firm, recently played a key role in relation to Court of Protection costs in the landmark Robshaw v United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust 2015 clinical negligence case which achieved a record quantum of at least £14.6 million, litigation conducted by Denise Stephens partner at Shoosmiths LLP. 

James Robshaw, now aged 12 years, suffers from severe cerebral palsy as a result of his birth being negligently handled by Lincoln County Hospital, Lincolnshire on 9 December 2002. While liability for his significant brain damage and serious physical disabilities was admitted, quantum was disputed by the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA). In fact, virtually all heads of future loss were disputed by the NHSLA, leading to an 11-day hearing before Foskett J.

James’ litigation solicitor and appointed deputy, Denise Stephens of Shoosmiths, asked Hyphen Law’s Christine Bunting to provide expert legal evidence on future deputyship costs for James. These were disputed by Hugh Jones, the Court of Protection solicitor for the defendant, who raised concerns about past deputyship costs.

Christine submitted expert, detailed assessment of the estimated yearly future deputyship costs for James up to and including the age of 18 years and his ongoing deputyship requirements for the rest of his life. Her specialist Court of Protection deputyship services insight proved invaluable to James’ case and resulted in Foskett J. agreeing with most of her cost calculations.

He allowed deputyship costs of 43,500 in year 1, 30, 900 in year 2, 20,800 from year 3 to age 18 and 23,200 from age 18. Foskett J. also allowed a contingency of 40,000 and further costs for future applications to the Court of Protection, statutory will applications, compliance with pension auto enrolment obligations and financial accounting.

Christine Bunting said: “When it comes to the calculation of future deputyship costs, there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ clinical negligence case. Every claim is different in terms of scale, complexity, the individuals and their families and the challenges they face. Each case must be considered on its own merits. In the words of Foskett J., the ‘one cap fits all approach is not going to provide the solution: each case will be fact-specific.’

“The growing number of clinical negligence quantum trials highlights the fact that the NHSLA has become more aggressive in its approach and is far more willing than ever before to fight cases to trial.   It is hoped that my success in this case will highlight to other solicitors who find themselves up against the NHSLA that the outcome is not a foregone conclusion.  In fact, seeking help from the right expert including specialist Court of Protection deputyship experts, such as Hyphen Law, may influence which aspects of a particular claim the NHSLA decides to contest and the level of future deputyship costs awarded.”

Denise Stephens commented: “Christine is widely acknowledged as a specialist in the field of Court of Protection deputyship services in high value, complex clinical negligence cases. Her in-depth knowledge and 25 years + of experience in deputyships and her expertise on the issue of future deputyship costs played a significant part in the recovery of this head of James s claim. I was impressed with her professionalism and the evidence she provided based on solid facts and would have no hesitation in recommending her as an expert in deputyship matters and costs for other high-profile clinical negligence cases.”

The full judgment of the landmark Robshaw v United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust 2015 case which is set to be one of the highest value clinical negligence court awards ever is available here http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2015/923.html.

To find out more about Hyphen Law visit www.hyphenlaw.co.uk or call 0845 160 1111.