Dominic Regan, writing in the New Law Journal, on claimant lobbying over Jackson implementation :
“All the lobbying and meetings behind closed doors has had as much impact as a blow from a wet lettuce leaf upon Mike Tyson.”
Where did it all go wrong for the claimant lobby?
One problem is that much of the lobbying was so badly thought out. The next issue of Litigation Funding will be publishing an article of mine examining the vaguely farcical evidence produced by the National Accident Helpline in support of the current funding system.
Not to be outdone, Irwin Mitchell commissioned a poll from Populus among more than 2,000 members of the public “showing that key proposals mooted by senior High Court judge Lord Justice Jackson … have little support amongst the public”. The results showed:
• Four in five (82%) people think that the current ‘no win, no fee’ system is fair
• Almost three-quarters (73%) of people think that, if a claimant’s personal injury claim is successful, the defendant’s side should pay their legal fees
Now, members of the public are perfectly entitled to their views of the current system. However, one does have to wonder how many understand the current system or have read the 557 pages of the Jackson Report.
But let’s look at the headline figures from the poll.
So, 82% of people support the current system that makes the defendant pay the successful claimant’s legal fees. However, when asked the specific question of whether they favour a defendant paying a successful claimant’s legal fees, the number drops to 73%. At least 9% of people were happy to express a view on the current system despite clearly not having the faintest idea as to how the current system operates. I’m going to take a wild guess and suggest that the true number was somewhat higher and it was hardly surprising that no weight was given by the government to this kind of “research”.
Interestingly, the poll did not appear to have a question as to whether people approved of a system whereby an injured claimant could recover £2,000 in damages and the lawyer could routinely recover in excess of £25,000 in legal fees. It seems that this is the question that Lord Justice Jackson and the government did ask themselves and the answer was obvious.
Still, I’m sure Irwin Mitchell had the sense to commission this poll on a no win, no fee basis.