Wednesday, 24 June 2009

No win, no fee to end?

Much of the legal press picked up on the Conservative Shadow Justice Secretary Dominic Grieve’s comment at LAG’s ‘Legal aid at 60: bridging the justice gap’ conference earlier this month that if elected next May the Conservative party would decide to roll out best value tendering for police station and magistrates’ court work or ‘abandon it completely’. Less well reported were his comments on no-win, no-fee arrangements (NWNFA).

Grieve admitted that the Conservatives had first permitted such arrangements, but said that Labour’s Access to Justice Act 1999, which replaced personal injury in legal aid with no win, no fee ‘seriously went off the rails’. In a response to a question from solicitor Simon Foster about what the Conservatives would do about NWNFA if elected, Grieve said, ‘If I could see a way of removing no-win, no-fee agreements and introducing a contingency fund I would do it. I believe no win, no fee is a flawed system which has a gentle corrupting influence on the legal profession’.

In the last ten years there has been a large growth in personal injury cases funded in this way and to an extent they have succeeded in allowing many people who otherwise could not afford it to pursue their claims; but at a cost. Unregulated claims assessors were siphoning up to 20 per cent of a client’s compensation and there has been much complaint about shoddy work. The courts eventually ruled on the issue of the amounts the claims companies could charge and claims management regulation came into force in April 2007.

While it would seem then that the problems with claims companies have been largely resolved, the point remains that lawyers have a stake in the outcome of cases, leaving many clients without representation as their cases have merit but are either too complex or too risky to take on. Clients also might be advised to take settlements as lawyers do not want to risk losing in court. Grieve’s solution is a contingent legal aid fund (CLAF) and this is supported by the Bar Council and Citizens Advice, among others. Such a fund would be paid for by charging application fees and taking a percentage from the winnings in successful cases.

LAG has warned that such a system could not co-exist with NWNFA, as lawyers would cream off the better cases leaving those with less chance of success for the CLAF. It would seem Grieve believes this as well. The question is if he takes the reins of power next year at the Ministry of Justice does he have the determination to drive through the abolition of the current arrangements and replace them with a CLAF?

1 comment:

john..... said...

nice post author many a thanks for this nice post Conditional fee cases are better know as no win no fee legal arrangements. If your personal injury case is thrown out of court you will not owe your solicitor any fees. The costs are usually claimed from those defending the case. If the case is won than you will have to pay your solicitors fees though, in reality, those costs are usually claimed back from the other side.

Unfortunately, despite the no fee part of the agreement there will still be costs that you will have to meet in order for the solicitor to move your claim forward. Even if you have a no win, no fee legal agreement, there could be still be other costs attached to your personal injury claim. You will still be liable to pay any medical and accident report expenses, court fees and any expert witness expenses. The expenses could be very large and are not covered by a conditional fee arrangement. These expenses can soon add up to quite a large sum and they will not be covered by the arrangement you have with your solicitor.for more insights please visit : -