Jackson proposes sweeping reforms to cut litigation costs

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  • The principle of 'Access to Justice' is somewhat weakened by the Claimant having to lose a significant percentage of his damages to contingency fees rather than the Defendant paying the success fee. The insurers win.

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  • How does returning to the situation in which PI claimants paid success fees and ATE premiums in any way enhance access to justice? While it may make some sense in commercial litigation, as things stand, the vast majority of PI claimants pay nothing, win or lose .
    All Jackson will achieve is to allow Defendant insurers to continue their current inefficiencies but limit their liabilty to pay the costs the Claimant has to pay in dealing with that.
    Jackson is attacking the wrong end of the problem - if instead we sort out what is wrong with the system, the costs problem will go away. If the insurers think litigation is too expensive, they should settle sooner and stop making risible offers. And detailed assessment is the way to tackle any claimant lawyers who claim too much.
    Frankly, I think Jackson has been a tremendous waste of public money and certainly will not benefit litigants with genuine claims or defences. The costs system is not the problem and if it ain't broke, why fix it?

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  • This is an excellent report. By abolishing referral fees it will rid us of a whole raft of parasites and ambulance chasers.
    It's also morally right that a claimant should have some financial cost, otherwise there is no incentive on his lawyers to run the litigation economically. There is no other service which is entirely free, and there is no reason why litigation should be any different.
    Preventing recovery of success fees and outrageously expensive self-insuring ATE insurance from defendants will also help to prevent what is effectively blackmail by claimants operating under CFA's.
    Well done Lord Justice Jackson - let's hope whichever government's in power has the balls to implement the recommendations.

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  • I never understood the justice of requiring the Defendant to pay the success fee and ATE premium. All the more so since the weaker the case the higher the success fee and premium, leading to the absurdity that a Defendant often has to pay out more in costs for a weak claim. I doubt very much many PI claimants will be materially prejudiced - claimant solicitors and counsel will, however.

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  • So in moving forward, Lord Jackson is proposing we adopt the pre-Access to Justice Act method. Moving forward in fact means regressing 10 years. Oh, and of course in 99 referral fees were "banned" then too weren't they.

    In a similar vein, perhaps they will also recommend the small claims track limit be reduced back down to £3,000 for liquidated claims....oh, thought not.

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  • Does anyone have any thoughts on how claimant solicitors would obtain new work if these proposals are implemented? Without referrers would they not have to advertise themselves? I thought the Solicitors Practice Rules prohibited that...

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  • I just do not understand the APIL argument at all. How can it be a bad thing for the claimant to have to bear the cost of an insurance premium in return for the peace of mind he receives. And if s/he doesn't, then surely it would be a good thing if s/he has to be subject to the resulting risk?
    Wouldn't it be just so much easier if we abandoned loser pays and adopted loser pays only when there's bad faith together with a properly structured contingency framework?

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  • "Rural bliss | 15-Jan-2010 11:27 am"
    How can you say "There is no other service which is entirely free" - in our society basic human rights services (such as NHS, policing, schools etc. etc.) are in fact free - why should justice not be included? Do you believe justice should be withheld from those unable to pay for something?
    "Anonymous | 15-Jan-2010 11:30 am" - the defendant only gets to pay the ATE and success fee on "weak cases" if the claimant wins - and in any event calling these "weak cases" is wrong - they are "harder to win" cases. Most claimant solicitors will turn down a case that is too weak - but if a case is hard to win because of its nature or difficult evidence etc. then it is right that it should incur higher fees as the work required is harder and greater. Defendants can always avoid these fees - just don't injure people.
    I believe that, if implemented, the proposed changes will seriously disadvantage the poor in our justice system. Most ATE premiums are based on broad categories (and obviously have to be because before a case is concluded things like the actual damages obtained are unknown) - so in many smaller cases a large percentage of the damages may be lost to paying the ATE premium - far more than a 10% rise would recover. These low damages cases might be considered insignificant to rich lawyers - but to the poorer claimants the amounts are important. At the same time LJJ has steered clear of any other changes to the legal costs system that would affect city firms - from where I am sitting it looks all very biased but I am sure he is the toast of the gentlemen's clubs.

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  • These proposed reforms really don't help anyone - the courts will feel as though they have to rush cases through causing lawyer standards to suffer, borderline cases won't find representation and law firms will have to lay off vast numbers of their legal execs in a frantic move to cut costs - yet again this government have puppetted a set of poorly thought out proposals for reform that can have no positive effect whatsoever other than earning their freinds in the underwriting industry a few more pounds on their annual profits...

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  • This is a daft report, we are going back in time where thr rich can afford to pay and the poor will not.

    If you get rid of the cmc's then the solicitors will have to pay out for advertising anyway. There is just no point. the new rta rules will make a diffrence to the system but this report is poor idear to a problem that is not there.

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