• Ask your solicitor about your eligibility for public funding as soon as possible.
  • Be sure that your solicitor can help you apply.
  • Make sure you know how the firm will charge you fees.
  • Ensure you know what the total costs are likely to be of
    • pursuing an investigation
    • and, if appropriate, a full claim

Many firms will offer a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA), which should ensure there is no financial risk to you if your claim is unsuccessful.

In complex cases, some firms will not apply for funding until they have assessed the medical notes and records. In such circumstances the firm should be prepared to fund the production of those records.

Get a client care letter

In any event, you should receive a “client care” letter. This will set out the fee structure and the firm’s procedures. If at any stage you feel unsure about how your case is being paid for or how much the bill is, ask your solicitor for an update. Your solicitor is required to update you at regular intervals.

Claiming on behalf of a child

If you are pursuing a claim on behalf of a child, who has suffered a neurological injury at birth or up to 8 weeks old,  it is likely she will be eligible for Legal  Aid Agency funding. Funding a claim is subject to merit and means. The Commission must be satisfied that reasonable grounds exist for starting an investigation and, where appropriate, progressing the matter through to a full claim. The financial circumstances of the child are what is relevant. The child is the claimant and it is her means which are assessed, not the parents'.

Stages to funding

  1. The initial costs of obtaining medical records, seeking expert reports and gaining a barrister’s opinion if necessary.
  2. The on-going costs of the various stages leading up to and including a trial if the barrister thinks the investigation should proceed to a claim.

Mental capacity and litigation friends

To bring a legal claim in her own name, a person must have the necessary mental capacity. If she lacks that capacity, another person can bring a claim on her behalf. This person is known as a “litigation friend”. Similarly a child will need a litigation friend, to bring a claim on her behalf. This will usually be one of her parents.

The litigation friend will choose and instruct the solicitor, acting in the injured person’s best interests. It is the injured person’s means that will determine whether she qualifies for legal aid. If she does not, her legal costs will come from her funds, not those of the litigation friend.

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