Justice for all is necessary

On behalf of the 3,700 plaintiff lawyers represented by Apil, I would like to correct the impression, which may have been created by Anthony Barton, that lawyers do not recognise the merits of conditional fees (The Lawyer, 24 February).

Apil has always supported conditional fees, but they are not without problems, especially for low income earners, many of whom would not be on low incomes if they had not been injured by someone else.

The costs of preliminary investigation into case validity are invariably high and insurance does not always cover those costs. If legal aid is withdrawn, those people with low incomes will not be able to fund investigations and many will not be able to bring their cases a fact which appears to be recognised by Dr Barton in his recommendation of state support in cases of hardship.

Dr Barton does not suggest an alternative way of identifying babies who suffer brain damage as a result of medical negligence. At present, they can only be identified through expensive investigation of their claims.

Apil believes that a system which could allow that to happen would not provide "affordable access to justice for all".

Caroline Harmer, president

Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (Apil)