Justice Secretary plans to overhaul no win no fee rules

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has recently announced he has plans to conduct an overhaul of the no win no fee legal regulations in both England and Wales.

Recently telling MPs that his planned reforms would restore fairness and proportion to the civil justice system, Secretary Clarke proposed that so-called ‘success fees’ for injury solicitors should be taken from the damages the winning client is to be awarded.   This differs from the current rule that has the losing side footing the bill for court costs.

In order to ease the bill, the personal injury compensation award ceiling for claimants is to rise by 10 per cent, said Mr Clarke.

The Justice Secretary stated that he decided to reform the conditional fee arrangement scheme in order to stop situations where defendants would settle their accident claims through a fear of incurring excess costs even when they know they’re blameless.  The government plans to end success fee and insurance premium recoverability in an effort to drive down legal costs, added Mr Clarke.

Claimants who have suffered loss will be treated to a 10 per cent uplift in damage awards award with the caveat that they must now be more cognizant on the bills their legal representatives are running up on their behalf, said the justice secretary.

Mr Clarke also announced the launch of a consultation that would attempt to make the UK’s civil justice system run more efficiently and effectively in the face of a decade and a half of stagnation.

Small claims courts maximum damages are to be raised to £15,000, up from £5,000, according to the plans.  Additionally there will be more encouragement for people to use mediation to settle their claims in an effort to avoid lengthy (and costly) court cases.

Sadiq Khan, shadow justice secretary, stated that the plans were a step in the right direction.  However he did warn that the details of the plans must be drawn up properly to avoid people losing access to justice in the government’s zeal to cut costs.

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