LCD sides with society in fees row

THE LORD Chancellor's Department has contradicted two leading counsels' opinions amid confusion over the scope of conditional fees.

A debate has ensued over whether conditional fees can be used by clients wishing to sue personal injury lawyers for professional negligence. The Law Society argues such claims are covered by the law, a stance refuted by the Bar Council which sought the opinion of two leading counsel.

The council argues that if a personal injury victim loses because of lawyer negligence, the claim should be for loss of opportunity not for the injury. It advised its members in May not to take on this type of case on a conditional fee basis.

But last week the LCD said it agreed with the Law Society. It had relied on the advice of internal lawyers and was unaware of the Bar's position.

The issue is expected to be formally clarified in an LCD review of conditional fees next summer.

A Bar Council spokesman said: “We welcome that the LCD has clarified its position. We look forward to discussing in greater detail the legal and statutory basis upon which its view is founded and to sharing other perspectives on the statute with the department.”