Insurers on the warpath

In the midst of your summer holidays and the Olympic Games, you could be forgiven for having missed the Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, the outgoing Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger, and the vice president of the Court of Appeal Sir Anthony May sitting on what appeared to be a bog-standard PI appeal.

Except that case ended up representing an entire policy shift in compensation levels.

You might have missed it, but the Association of British Insurers (ABI) didn’t.

From next April damages levels will raise by 10 per cent. This is intended to help redress the balance for claimants who will no longer be able to recover costs from the losing party under the conditional fee agreement (CFA) regime.

The ABI reckons defendants, like its general insurance members, will be left for a period where they’re paying increased damages and, while the last CFAs work through the system, still on the hook for claimants’ legal costs.

It’s not happy, that much is clear. The ABI has instructed DAC Beachcroft partner Andrew Parker and Fountain Court’s Tim Dutton QC to get the case reopened. Parker, incidentally, was one of the key advisers to Lord Justice Jackson’s costs review while Dutton is a go-to adviser for the SRA.

So it turns out an initiative intended to halt legal battles over costs has created a mammoth row. And that’s important, whether you’re on the beach or not.

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