The Disabilities Trust is planning to lend money to lawyers in a ground-breaking credit scheme due to concern that the Woolf reforms and conditional fee arrangements will scare lawyers away from brain injury cases.
The Trust the largest provider of brain injury rehabilitation in Europe fears lawyers may fail to carry out thorough investigations under government pressure to cut costs. In particular, legal adviser Frederick Holding is concerned firms will baulk at doing vital detailed injury assessments, which can cost u16,000.
The Trust is already about to agree to its first advance, on a case in York, and is considering several others.
Under the credit scheme, Holding says the Trust has a pool of money to lend to lawyers so they don't have to carry the costs up front. It is even planning to offer a no-win, no-fee arrangement.
"We will have to take our own view of a case, but if we think things are okay, we will extend some credit and even take on some of the risk," he says. "Just as they have an uplift fee, maybe we could share that with them."
Holding says the Trust can recover its cost by charging interest, increasing the fees or seeking a success fee. "It's a matter of tailoring it to the case."