Legal Cost Specialists

Coventry v Lawrence

In what is unlikely to be the shock judgment of the year, the Supreme Court has declined to strike down the pre-Jackson funding regime in Coventry & Ors v Lawrence & Anor [2015] UKSC 50.

Perhaps more surprising is that as many as two of the seven judges dissented with powerful reasoning as to why the old regime was incompatible with Article 6.

One is rather left with the impression that the majority decision was as much reached as a result of the fear of the Pandora’s Box that would have been opened if a different conclusion had been reached rather than on the actual merits of the arguments.

3 thoughts on “Coventry v Lawrence”

  1. runneymede guy

    Simon, I love this website because its perhaps the only forum we have to let the Judiciary know how we really feel about justice (or injustice depending whether you dare to dissent). I strongly believe that some very important people read your blog.

    A long time ago, something called the magna carta was brought into play to maintain the rights and liberties of common people whilst also preserving the sovereignty of this land.

    In modern times the said rights and principles have been significantly undermined by legislation which either directly or indirectly infringes upon people’s rights, privacy, land, freedom and possessions (and the right to enjoy all of the above).

    The fact that two Judges dissent in this case is more than embarrassing but then in real terms everyone must agree that it was impossible for a one system fits all scenario. That doesn’t deflect from the fact that the Judiciary/Government pushed through the Wolf Reforms in a way that was bound to cause huge problems.

    It is not the conclusion in this case that is upsetting, its the “new era” of government that seems to think that it is o.k to have a legal system in play that is designed and maintained on the basis that only those who have lots of money either get justice or indeed evade it.

    As soon as we get into a situation where the only voice heard in a Court room is that of a man with a friendly bank manager or banker, then I am afraid we teeter on the brink of an apartheid type regime. It is the common man who works hard to pay his taxes, it is the common man who goes to war to fight for queen and country, it is the common man serves and protects his family, why can this common man not get justice/fair treatment in the Courts of his own domain?

    But Hey, who am I to talk?? , perhaps people will go back and read Lord Pannick’s comments about the recent increase in Court fees….

  2. Coventry determined that the “old” regime was reasonable, proportionate and legitimate – so why was it changed in favour of a system that prejudices against Access to Justice and penalises those injured or wrongly done to?

    The Supreme Court was careful to point out the ECHR had already ruled against the UK Government on the “old” regime, but they declined to follow suit, but it was telling they left the door clearly open for the matter to go to Strasbourg

    I don’t believe we have heard the last of the repercussions of this case, either directly by referral to Strasbourg, or through a challenge to the validity and/or need for LASPO

  3. It’s all a matter of perspective I suppose; I thought the judgment of Nueberger and Dyson was far more persuasive and powerful in its reasoning.

    The conclusion it seems to me to be drawn is that there is no scheme that will be fair to everyone all of the time. The legislature must do what it considers fair as a whole even if it knows it may affect some individual’s rights when there is a “greater good”.

    The challenge would be no different now to say a would-be litigant who cannot bring his claim because no-one will take it on without a success fee that is recoverable inter-partes.
    His right to a fair trial would be breached but he couldn’t ask for a recoverable success fee and premium in his individual circumstances case alone. It seems to me that the Appellants in C v L cannot similarly ask for the old regime to be dis-applied in their individual circumstances.

    It will be interesting if it goes on Strasbourg as I suspect nonetheless that they will overturn the decision of the Supreme Court. If they do go down the individual injustice route, the same crystal ball tells me there’ll be a challenge that LASPO breaches Art 6. too in some individual cases.

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