PI lawyers ready to strike fees deals

PERSONAL injury solicitors gearing up for conditional fees are confident they can strike up workable deals with barristers despite the continuing gulf between the Law Society and the Bar Council on terms of engagement.

The Law Society, which published its advice to solicitors last week, advises that the Bar's model terms of engagement are “in some respects disadvantageous to clients”.

It says despite “long-running discussions”, the two bodies have failed to agree on matters including whether counsel should advise on all cases before accepting instructions.

The Bar Council is considering the society's advice.

Michael Napier, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (Apil), says the rift is “not a major dispute” but results from a need for both bodies to alert their members to the issues.

“I'm confident that once solicitors and barristers sit down and work together, this apparent divide will evaporate. Lawyers should be able to work something out.”

Apil will monitor developments, and may develop its own protocol if problems continue to occur in practice, Napier says.

Pannone & Partners' head of PI litigation Frank Patterson, whose department has “dozens” of conditional fee cases lined up, says some barristers are already saying they will “do the whole thing on the basis of trust”.