No win no fee lawyers breathe sigh of relief

No win no fee lawyers concerned over the reforms to the legal industry have been postponed until April of 2013, giving solicitors an additional six months of breathing room from the original October 2012 date.

While the Ministry of Justice is keen to limit no win no fee arrangements due to their view that the legal fees that accompany such awards are too much of a burden on defendants who are found liable during personal injury compensation cases, the MoJ announced the postponement recently in an effort to allow legal businesses and law firms more preparation time for the coming changes.  The first part of the new reforms, which contains language pertaining to legal aid reforms, was already delayed by six months to the same April 2013 date in an announcement by the Government in December of 2011.

The second part of the bill includes language abolishing success fees and related legal costs from conditional fee arrangements.  Instead of defendants bearing the burden, instead claimants will have to pay their lawyers directly out of their compensation awards.

Largely due to the recommendations made by Lord Justice Jackson in 2010, the Bill calls for reform to civil litigation costs in order to curb insurance premiums from rising across the industry.  However, Lord Justice Jackson has taken issue with the decision by the Government to cut legal aid, stating that it was never his recommendation to do so.

The proposed legal aid cuts have been controversial ones, as many proponents of legal aid have protested in saying that the reforms could reduce or eliminate access to justice for those who need it the most, as they are unable to pay for expensive legal representation.

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