Trafigura fee day

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  • This is one of the most absurd cases ever to be tried in connection with costs, and if any evidence was needed to persuade a sceptical government that CFA financed cases are mainly for the benefit of the lawyers here it is on a plate.
    The ATE premium was £10m, yet what `risk' was this covering? If the case had been lost any costs order against the claimants wouldn't have been worth the paper it was written on. How exactly does one enforce an order for costs against a bunch of penniless natives of the Ivory Coast?
    So what was the justification for ATE cover at all?
    This case was always for the benefit of the lawyers first and foremost. The payouts averaged £1,000 each, and there's now a row going on about who gets what.
    In the judgment it was accepted that “Leigh Day & Co, in the light of the expert evidence, now acknowledge that the slops could at worst have caused a range of short-term, low-level, flu-like symptoms and anxiety."
    One can't help feeling that Trafigura, facing a costs bill of over £100m, made a commercial decision to pay out, but this is negotiation with a gun to the head.
    I appreciate the counter-argument that the claimants may have got nowhere in the absence of a CFA. However, a costs figure per claimant which is 3.5 times what they received in damages and for a case that didn't even get to trial is just bonkers, and perfect ammunition for the anti-CFA lobby.

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  • Totally agree with the above. CFAs in cases like this make law firms look like bookies in that they're essentially backing themselves at favourable odds, making the whole thing a numbers game. ie If you take 5 of these cases and win three then it's happy days.
    But should firms set themselves up as little more than professional gamblers?
    And is this really the kind of case that CFAs were set up to encourage?

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  • If there was no risk then why didn't the Defendant settle ealier then the bill wouldn't have been so high? The Defendant's can't have their cake and eat it.

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