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Taylor Wessing has won a landmark victory for libel defendants by securing a costs-capping order for Associated Newspapers.
Associated is defending the Evening Standard against a defamation claim brought by a nursing home owner, Alberta Matadeen, who was accused by the newspaper of ill-treating patients. The claimant's costs were estimated at £558,000 and the defendant's at £198,000.
Charles Russell, for the claimant, said the case was subject to a conditional fee arrangement (CFA) and that Matadeen had been unable to secure after-the-event insurance. When this happens it is usual for the claimant solicitors to get a 100 per cent success fee, raising potential total costs to around £930,000.
Associated contended that the handicap imposed on the defendant in this situation is far greater than on the claimant. On 17 March Master Eyre granted the order - the first such decision in a libel case.
Taylor Wessing partner Niri Shan said: "This does set a precedent in cases where claimants are represented under a CFA and have no after-the-event insurance."
Harvey Kass, legal director of Associated, added: "The CFA regime is out of control, probably unlawful and needs to be modified urgently."
Shan instructed Adrienne Page QC of 5 Raymond Buildings. One Brick Court's Manuel Barca was instructed by Charles Russell partner Duncan Lamont for Matadeen.