§ Mr. Etherington
To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will give(a) the total cost to date to the legal aid fund of the Benzodiazepine litigation, (b) the total number of legal aid certificates issued for Benzodiazepine litigation, (c) the average cost per certificate where no proceedings were issued, (d) the average cost per certificate where proceedings had commenced and (e) total generic costs associated with the Benzodiazepine litigation.
Mr. John M. Taylor
The estimated cost to date to the legal aid fund of the Benzodiazepine litigation is £28.6 million. Some 13,500 certificates were issued in total. Of these, approximately 5,000 claims resulted in the issue of proceedings. The average cost per certificate where no proceedings were issued is estimated to be £1,590. The average cost per certificate where proceedings have been commenced is difficult to estimate because taxations are currently proceeding in these cases and a substantial number of cases have yet to be taxed. Some 3,200 cases have so far been taxed at an average cost of £3,500. This figure is expected to rise as the 1,800 outstanding cases are likely to contain a higher proportion of more expensive cases. The total generic costs paid out to date are £3.9 million.
The costs are now being taxed and, as with all other legal aid bills, the amount to be paid out of the legal aid fund will be that which the court determines to be reasonable. All the above figures include solicitors' costs, counsel fees, disbursements, court fees and VAT.