Six test cases of great importance to the legal costs industry have been co-joined to be heard before a single court next month
They include a challenge to out-of-date Law Society conditional fee agreement (CFA) regulations, which nevertheless remain in use, and an appeal that threatens the future of 700 law firms.
The Court of Appeal, which is hearing the six cases, is determined to resolve a raft of CFA issues relating to CFAs that have been hanging over claims managers and the legal and insurance professions for years.
The key case concerns an appeal from senior costs judge Master Hurst's decision that The Accident Group's (TAG) CFAs are not invalid, despite the fact that it uses its agent Accident Investigation Line to explain and agree funding arrangements with clients. Hundreds of high street firms running some 250,000 such cases are predicted to become extinct if TAG loses. Beach-croft Wansbroughs litigation partner Nick White is acting for the insurers and Anthony Dennison of Manchester firm Rowe Cohen is acting for TAG.
Many law firms are also likely to be severely affected by a failure to prove in another of the six cases, Hollins v Russell, that the Law Society's April 2000 CFA regulations do not breach a subsequent Nov-ember 2000 regulation. This relates to lawyers' fees being a certain proportion of recoverable damages.
The other cases to be dealt with by the Court of Appeal are Pratt v Bull, Worth v McKenna, Dunn v Ward and Tichband v Herdman.