LAW Lords are expected to stage a rebellion against conditional fees next week, but the introduction of the “no win, no fee” system will not be delayed, it is claimed.
The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Taylor, is backing opposition to the plans, which he says will be disastrous for litigants. He is among those supporting a challenge to the regulations by Lord Ackner on 17 October.
A spokesman for Taylor says there is “a ground swell of opposition among legal peers” due to fears that lawyers' extra fees would wipe out damages.
The country's most senior judge will not oppose the principle of conditional fees, which is now enshrined in law, but he is calling for the fees uplift to be reduced.
Ackner's unstarred question will be debated but not put to the vote and so it is unlikely the conditional fee proposals will be held up. The Lord Chancellor's Department expects to lay the regulations by the end of the year.
Law Society officials reject claims that pay-outs to the plaintiff will be eaten up by costs.
Russell Wallman, the society's head of professional policy, says changes are to be made to Order 62, allowing taxing masters to reduce the uplift where it is disproportionate to the risk of losing a case.
David Marshall, co-ordinator of the Association of Personal Injury's special interest group on costs, says the market will also have an impact.
“I don't think it is going to be a disaster for litigants. The market should reflect the difficulty of taking a case,” he says.
Marshall says it is better to have a regulated system instead of the current trend for unqualified claims assessors working on a contingency fee basis.
LCD officials say there is no truth in reports that conditional fees for insolvency cases have been scrapped. The proposals are still under consideration.