Legal Cost Specialists

Successful National Accident Helpline challenge

Earlier this year I successfully argued that a CFA was unenforceable and the solicitors’ costs were therefore disallowed. The challenge was on the basis of the, now revoked, Conditional Fee Agreement Regulations 2000, in that the solicitors had failed to advise the client of the interest they had in recommending a particular ATE insurance policy.

The claim concerned the National Accident Helpline scheme. I am not aware of any reported decisions concerning this scheme and it may be that the outcome was fact specific.

The decision shows that Regulation 4(2)(e) challenges have not been killed off by the judgment in Tankard v John Fredricks Plastics Ltd [2008] EWCA Civ 1375. (That judgment simply muddied the waters.)

What I find interesting about this matter is how long it has dragged on for. This was a routine RTA claim resulting from an accident on 12 December 2003 which settled for £8,000. The claim settled on 21 February 2008. Detailed assessment proceedings were commenced on 3 March 2009 and rumbled on until judgment was handed down in relation to the preliminary issue of the enforceability of the CFA on 14 April 2011.

But did not end there.

The Claimant is appealing the decision of the Costs Judge and the appeal is due to be heard very shortly. (If the appeal is dismissed I will let you know. If it succeeds I will keep quiet about it and hope posterity records this as being an outright win on my part.)

Those concerned about the impact of the Jackson reforms can console themselves with the thought that there can be a surprisingly long run-off for even the lowest value claims.

The judgment can be read here: King v Thames Water Utilities & Transport for London.

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