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This year, The Lawyer’s annual ranking of the largest UK law firms by turnover is available as an interactive, digital benchmarking tool. For the first time this will allow you to manipulate each data set against the metrics of your choice.
Tiger Woods used one but John Terry was refused one - super injunctions have been making headlines news in recent months.
Look behind those headlines and you’ll see that over the last two years media groups have come together to fight back against what they see as the gradual introduction of privacy laws in England and Wales.
Most galling to those defendant newspaper editors is the fact that the wealthy and powerful can use the ‘no win no fee’ model at no risk to themselves.
Hollywood actress Sharon Stone, footballer Ashley Cole, boxing promoter Frank Warren and Cherie Booth have all used conditional fee arrangements against newspapers and as defendants the newspapers have paid the legal fees. Some cases have settled out of court purely because the newspaper is unwilling to risk being landed with claimant costs.
As Bob Satchwell of the Society of Editors highlights: “To those of us on the receiving end of what was supposed to be a safety net to compensate lawyers for no win, no fee cases that their clients lost, the system has become a gravy train financed by the media to reward lawyers who in reality face little risk.”
The media groups got themselves organised into a lobbying group aimed at persuading the Government to introduce a cap on the exponential costs in libel cases (The Lawyer, 4 February 2008).
After countless hearings for The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee and several high profile court cases - including Trafigura (The Lawyer, 26 October 2009) and Simon Singh (The Lawyer, 11 December 2009) - the Justice Secretary Jack Straw has unveiled a series of measures aimed at curtailing so called libel tourism.
This includes a cap on success fees in CFA cases - rather than allowing the successful side to collect a 100 per cent uplift on legal fees, the success fee will be capped at 10 per cent. Already media claimant lawyers are threatening to launch a judicial review of that decision claiming it was rushed through without proper consultation (The Lawyer, 1 February 2009).
Then the Justice Secretary this week announced plans to stop multiple defamation claims based on repeated down loadings of the same online story. And to take the last wheel off the gravy train - libel claims must be brought within a year of the original publication.
Straw said that ministers were “convinced” that libel law reform in England and Wales was needed amid concern that existing legislation had a “chilling effect” on freedom of expression.
Sceptics might raise an eyebrow at the fact that such measures are being introduced just months before a general election - especially at it appears to appease the editors of powerful newspapers.
Nevertheless, freedom of expression is the bedrock of democracy and every measure (however political) should be taken to protect that fact.