In England and Wales the Legal Services Commission (LSC) carries out a number of functions including the consideration of applications for legal aid which may be used to publicly fund the pursuit of civil action in a court of law. In ensuring the appropriate use of public money the LSC will only authorise specialist solicitors who are members of the Law Society panel of clinical negligence experts to act on behalf of a client having the benefit of a legal aid certificate in a medical negligence compensation claim. For a solicitor to be described as a medical or clinical negligence expert or specialist or as an ‘Erbs palsy solicitor’ they must become a member of the clinical negligence panel run by the Law Society.

Less than 1% of the solicitors in England and Wales are authorised members of the Law Society clinical negligence panel and very few law firms have a clinical negligence department. Appropriately qualified lawyers tend to gravitate to the larger firms that deal with these matters or to the niche firms that specialise in this subject and as a result law firms that deal with clinical negligence are much less common than general practice law firms. In order to become a member with authorisation to be described as an Erbs palsy solicitor it is necessary for the applicant to show very substantial skill and expertise with appropriate experience of running and settling medical negligence claims and it must also be demonstrated that the faculties at that particular law firm are substantial and provide adequate support to a lawyer running one of these potentially large and complicated cases.

The requirements of the Law Society for membership of this specialist panel are substantial. Before being allowed to use the description Erbs palsy solicitor it must be show that the applicant can satisfy the following parameters:-

    • approximately three years’ experience of clinical negligence matters
    • to have conducted at least 36 clinical negligence cases during the past three years
    • to have completed at least 20 hours of relevant training during the past three years
    • to submit an application covering all aspects of their clinical negligence practice and of the procedures operated by their firm

The above requirements would seem to suggest that membership is open to far more solicitors than do actually qualify however there are more onerous requirements before a lawyer in England and Wales can be called an Erbs palsy solicitor and these include:-

    • of the 36 clinical negligence cases conducted over the previous three years at least three of them must have gone as far as a ‘case management conference’ and ‘meeting experts’.
    • at least one case one have been a claim involving a child or a mentally disabled person that required court approval before settlement
    • at least two cases must have involved injuries of the utmost severity
    • at least four cases must have had a valuation exceeding £100,000
    • applicants must have undertaken at least 20 hours clinical negligence training with at least 12 hours dedicated to medical issues in the three years prior to the application.


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