Timetable of plans to reform civil law on No Win No Fee claims
‘In some areas of civil litigation, costs are disproportionate and impede access to justice. I therefore propose a coherent package of interlocking reforms, designed to control costs and promote access to justice.’ These were words said by Lord Justice Rupert Jackson before proposing reforms in civil law. The Ministry of Justice detailed at the beginning of October 2012 the proposed timetable for the changes to be fully implemented.
The new policy decisions mean the reforms will be implemented as of the 1st of April 2013 and they basically curb ‘no win no fee’ claims. The key reforms are as so;
• Lawyers will no longer be able to recover after the fact costs and success fees.
• General damages will rise by 10%.
• In personal injury cases, success fees will be limited to 25% of the damages
While two of the key reform points are aiming to making the successful client better off than they would be before the reform com into place, the first reform rules out ‘no win no fee’ claims. With some claimants only taking their cases to court due to the fact that if they do not win, they pay no fees, there will probably be a fall in the number of cases that will make it to court.
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “We are committed to reforming the ‘no win no fee’ system so that legal costs for reasonable compensation claims will be more proportionate, and avoidable claims will be deterred from going to court. This will help us to move away from the current unacceptable situation where, for example, the NHS paid £200m to claimants’ lawyers for compensation cases in 2010-11 – around three times more than it paid its own lawyers.
With no major reforms in the justice system for 15 years, supporters of the reforms may argue that the justice system is being exploited. However, by basically ruling out the ‘no win no fee’ claims, many people may view the reforms as denying access to justice for genuine victims who may not take their cases to court in case they lose and have to pay expensive lawyer fees.