No win no fee lawyers dealt a blow by European court

In a recent case brought by the Daily Mirror‘s publisher, the European court of human rights ruled that success fees recovered by no win no fee lawyers in defamation and privacy cases represented a significant freedom of expression violation.

The Strasbourg court found that the nature and depth of the flaws in the no win no fee payment system is breach of European human rights conventions.  Legal experts predict that the ramifications for future libel and privacy cases in the UK will be significant. However the popularity of no win no fee accident claims will most likely be unaffected or affected only tangentially, these same experts maintain.

The court case stems from an appeal made by the Daily Mirror after they were subject to more than £360,000 in success fees on a £500,000 libel settlement.  The Strasbourg court stated that requiring the publisher to pay the success fees was out of proportion with the total settlement.  The original conditional fee agreement for the plaintiff in the case entitled it to receive a success fee of 95 per cent in addition to 100 per cent of its base costs.

MGN, the paper’s publishing group, stated that the recent court ruling in their favour has vindicated their long, hard fight regarding the case’s success fees. An MGN spokesperson also stated that the court found the entire conditional fee agreement system with success fees to be a flawed one.

The MGN spokesperson continued, stating that the firm hoped the judgment would increase the amount of pressure on the government in efforts towards the abolition of such recovery fees from defendants.  The spokesperson expressed MGN’s hopes that such an occurrence would be happening sometime in the near future.

One Ministry of Justice spokesman stated that the government has taken the court’s ruling into consideration and will be responding with its observations in due time.

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