PI groups arrive at compromise on fees

THE DEADLOCK between the Bar and the Law Society over conditional fee terms of engagement for counsel has been broken following an initiative by two personal injury lawyers groups.

The impasse between the two sides of the profession, first revealed by The Lawyer in July, had cast a shadow over the launch of no win no fee rules and led to the publication of two conflicting model terms by the Bar and Law Society.

But now the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and the Personal Injury Bar Association have proposed a compromise model which was approved by both the Bar Council and the Law Society last week.

Apil president Michael Napier said he welcomed the news which he said reflected the growing strength of his own organisation. Apil is about to hire its own press and parliamentary liaison officer.

“I am delighted, and see this as a major achievement for both groups.”

He added: “Without throwing stones this is something the Law Society and the Bar Council were unable to do.”

Matthias Kelly, a founder member of the Personal Injury Bar Association, said an agreement had been forged which was in the interests of clients as well as both sides of the profession.

The compromise document, which has not yet been released, is understood to contain optional clauses reflecting the need for a different type of arrangement between solicitors and barristers working together for the first time and those with an on-going relationship.

It received conditional approval from the Bar Council's legal services committee subject to some minor changes, according to committee secretary John Lloyd.

David Hartley, of the Law Society's legal practice directorate, said he hoped a final document would be ready for publication by November.