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Breast Cancer: Compensation

Volume 593: debated on Thursday 3 September 1998

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asked Her Majesty's Government:What progress has been made in respect of High Court proceedings involving plaintiffs in the Legal Aid Board's multi-party action seeking compensation for injuries caused by radiotherapy treatment for breast cancer. [HL3105]

Ten cases were originally selected as test cases which would go to trial. Of these, two settled out of court in summer 1997. Five were discontinued formally in November 1997. Three went to trial in January and February 1998 and, of those, one was settled during the trial and, in the other two cases, judgment was given at the end of the trial for the defendants. In May 1998 there was a total of 105 cases. As at 6 August, 44 cases are continuing. Of the remaining 61 cases, in 20 the legal aid certificate has been discharged; and in 41 the continuation of the legal aid certificate is under consideration. An experts' meeting has been ordered to take place before the end of September.

asked Her Majesty's Government:In respect of Question HL3105, what is the total number of plaintiffs presently involved in this multi-party action and how many have qualified for legal aid; how many cases have been brought to trial; how many have been settled in or out of court, rejected or withdrawn and in each case what damages and awards of costs were made; how many cases are still awaiting trial and what dates have been set for them. [HL3106]

As at 6 August 1998 44 cases are continuing. In 40 of those the plaintiff is legally aided. Ten cases were originally selected as test cases which would go to trial. Of these, two settled in summer 1997, out of court. Five were discontinued formally in November 1997. Three went to trial in January and February 1998 of which one settled during the trial and in the other two cases judgment was given at the end of the trial for the defendants. The costs and damages awarded during the trial were not included in the order but were set out in an annexure to it and are not, therefore, in the public domain. Disclosing this information would be a breach of client confidentiality and prejudicial to the settlement negotiations on other cases which are pending. An experts' meeting has been ordered to take place before the end of September.

asked Her Majesty's Government:In respect of Question HL3105, when it is expected that all cases listed in the multi-party action are going to be settled in or out of court and otherwise rejected or withdrawn. [HL3107]

So far 10 test cases have been dealt with. Of those, two settled out of court in summer 1997; and five were discontinued formally in November 1997. Three cases went to trial in January and February 1998 of which one settled during the trial and in the other two judgment was given at the end of the trial for the defendants. As at 6 August 1998 cases involving 40 legally aided plaintiffs and four private clients are continuing. An experts' meeting has been ordered to take place before the end of September.

asked Her Majesty's Government:In respect of Question HL3105, which hospital authorities and radiotherapy treatment centres are included in the list of defendants and how many cases are related to each one of them. [HL3108]

The following list of defendant hospitals and number of cases related to each one was correct as at 24 March 1998.

Defendant HospitalsNo.
Addenbrookes (Cambridge Health Authority)2
Bristol Royal Infirmary (Bristol & District Health Authority)2
Charing Cross Hospital (NHS Litigation Authority)2
Christies Hospital (South Manchester Health Authority)6
Churchill Hospital (Oxfordshire Health Authority)1
Clatterbridge Hospital (Wirral Health Authority)4
Colchester & Essex Hospital (N.E. Essex Health Authority)1
Cookridge Hospital (Leeds Health Authority)8
Essex County Hospital (Essex Ribers NHS Trust)1
Cheltenham General Hospital (Gloucester Health Authority)1
Hammersmith Hospital (The NHS Litigation Authority)1
Kent & Canterbury Hospital (East Kent Health Authority)1
King's College Hospital (Camberwell Health Authority)2
Middlesex Hospital (Camden & Islington Health Authority)5
Mount Vernon Hospital (Hillingdon Health Authority)2
Newcastle General (Newcastle Health Authority)1
Norfolk & Norwich Hospital (East Norfolk Health Authority)2
North Middlesex Hospital (North Middlesex NHS Trust)1
North Ormesby Hospital (South Tees Health Authority)1
Northampton General Hospital (Northampton Health Authority)1
Oldchurch Hospital (Barking Havering & Brentwood H/A)5
Freedom Fields Hospital (Plymouth Health Authority)2
Poole Hospital (Poole Hospital NHS Trust)1
Princess Royal (East Riding Health Authority)3
Queen Elizabeth Hospital (Birmingham Health Authority)1
Queen's Medical Centre (Nottingham Health Authority)1
Royal Berkshire Hospital (Berkshire Health Authority)1
Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital (Exeter & N. Devon H/A)2
Royal Free Hospital (Camden & Islington Health Authority)3
Royal London Hospital (E. London & City Health Authority)6
Royal Marsden Hospital (NHS Litigation Authority)12
Singleton Hospital (West Glamorgan Health Authority)1
Southend Hospital (South Essex Health Authority)1
St. Bart's (East London & The City Health Authority)1
St. Mary's (Portsmouth & S.E. Hampshire Health Authority)3
St. Thomas's (West Lambeth Health Authority)4
Torbay Hospital (Plymouth & Torbay Health Authority)6
Treliske Hospital (Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Health Authority)1
Velindre Hospital (South Glamorgan Health Authority)4
Weston Park Hospital (Sheffield Health Authority)2

asked Her Majesty's Government:In respect of Question HL3105, what are the total costs incurred to date by the firm of solicitors acting for the plaintiffs under contract to the Legal Aid Board, covering generic and individual case issues, as well as damages and cost awards in cases that have been settled in or out of court and those that have been rejected or withdrawn. [HL3109]

Total net costs paid to 10 August 1998 were £2.3 million. This sum includes the generic costs paid under the lead certificate together with costs paid to all solicitors involved in the action for individual case work. It does not, however, take account of any contributions which may be payable under each certificate. To give information on damages and cost awards raises issues of client confidentiality.