If only the parties to a medical negligence claim had sought mediation, a £72,320 solicitor’s bill for a £3,250 claim might have been avoided. A costs judge made clear the need for solicitors to undertake careful case planning, and to make sure that their costs are both reasonable and proportionate, after slashing a £72,320 bill for a low-value clinical negligence case to £24,604.

The facts of the claim revolve around a delayed diagnosis for a pituitary tumour in the case of Rezek-Clarke v Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Claimant firm Thompsons Solicitors had originally served a bill for £72,320 after settling a case for £3,250. That figure was then reduced to £24,600 after a finding that the bill was disproportionate. The judge said: “Costs are proportionate if they bear a reasonable relationship to the sums in issue in the proceedings.” It was a case where the claimant’s solicitors, Thompsons, knew that damages would not exceed £5,000, and it settled for £3,250.

Although this was a clinical negligence case, the principle remains the same whatever the subject of dispute: anyone seeking legal redress should consider the likely costs of bringing an action, the expected value of the outcome and whether mediation might be a quicker and cheaper way of resolving the matter.