The defendant costs specialists

Posts made in April, 2011

Paying "some" legal costs

By on Apr 15, 2011 | 0 comments

I mentioned the other day the poll of members of the public commissioned by Irwin Mitchell as part of their anti-Jackson lobbying. One of the “results” from this poll was: • Almost half (47%) say that they would be less likely to bring a claim for compensation if they thought they may have to pay some of the legal costs. Like all these things, it depends quite how the question is phrased. And how much “less” is “less likely”?  Let’s remember, the proposal, which will now be introduced, is that in personal injury claims any success fee recoverable from the claimant will be capped at 25% of damages excluding future care and loss. So for a more serious injury with future care and loss of earnings, the choice a claimant may face is whether to pursue a claim that currently would allow them to keep £100,000 but would, in the future, allow them to keep £90,000. Are 47% of people really not going to bother bringing such claims in the future? Even for low value claims for general damages only, are people not going to bring a claim worth £2,000 if £500 will go to the lawyer in success fee? And, if they don’t, is society really going to be worse off? However, in a press release following the government’s Jackson announcement, Andrew Tucker, head of Personal Injury for Irwin Mitchell, said: “Our own research shows that just under half of people (47%) would not bring a valid claim for compensation if they thought that they would have to pay some of the legal costs”. Since when did “less likely to bring a claim” become “would not bring a valid claim”? More inaccurate spin, but this time too late to make any...

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A wet lettuce leaf

By on Apr 13, 2011 | 2 comments

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...

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New 2011 Guideline Hourly Rates coming (sometime)

By on Apr 12, 2011 | 9 comments

At the Association of Costs Lawyers national conference Master Hurst explained that although an increase in the Guideline Hourly Rates had been planned, this was due to be linked to the average earnings index but unfortunately that index no longer exists and an alternative index was being sought. It has now been announced: “The Master of the Rolls has received a recommendation from the Advisory Committee on Civil Costs on an increase to the Guideline Hourly Rates for 2011. The rates form the starting point for judges carrying out summary assessments of costs in certain cases, on reasonable hourly rates for solicitors and legal executives of varying levels of experience. The Committee has recommended an earnings related increase for 2011, but the Master of the Rolls has asked the Committee to seek additional information and provide further evidence to allow him to make a more considered decision. In the meantime, and until further notice, the Guideline Hourly Rates for 2010 will continue to be applied.” This is all well and good but we are now going to have a start date for the new rates other than January or April, unless it is suggested they should apply retrospectively.  Just one more thing to try and remember when reviewing Bills of Costs.   ...

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Jackson good news

By on Apr 11, 2011 | 7 comments

Dominic Regan writing on Jackson implementation in the New Law Journal: “The good news is that the government is not looking to increase the small claims limit of £1,000 in personal injury claims.  That is the end of the good news.”    

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New legal costs businesses

By on Apr 8, 2011 | 8 comments

Gibbs Wyatt Stone has just celebrated its fifth anniversary. (During that time GWS has gone from strength-to-strength … blah, blah, blah … growing reputation … blah, blah, blah … ever growing list of important clients … blah, blah, blah.) Traditional wisdom is that the first year for any new business is the most difficult, and the period during which most fail, but if a business can reach the five years mark then it has very good prospects for the long term. However, with recent announcements, I suspect the next five years are going to be just as “challenging” as the first five. Interestingly, despite Jackson casting his shadow over the costs world, the last couple of years seem to have seen a very high level of new start-up costs ventures. Why should that be? Has it been wishful thinking that Jackson would not happen? Has it been an acknowledgment that Jackson would happen, the gravy train was about to end, but a hope to make as much money as possible before the end, with self-employment seen as the best opportunity? Has it been an acknowledgment that some firms were unlikely to survive – and would certainly not be continuing to pay generous wages before the end – and decisions have been taken to jump (into self-employment) before being pushed being pushed (into unemployment) in the hope of carving out a niche in the market ahead of Jackson implementation? I’d be interested to hear readers’ views, although for once I think we’d all understand if these were...

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