Proposed changes to the way no win no fee legal claims work in libel and privacy cases would leave ordinary citizens having to deal with rules that are both ‘wrong and unfair,’ according to a libel reform campaigner group.
The prime minister has recently received a letter urging him to think twice about instituting changes to the no win no fee accident claims system, as libel reform campaigners and ‘tabloid press victims’ have come together to protest the new changes. The new bill, which includes restrictions on ‘after the event’ insurance and personal injury claims that use conditional fee arrangements, is set to have its final day in the House of Lords soon, with acceptance of the bill preventing claimants from recovering their insurance premiums and their solicitors’ success fees from the losing side.
The campaigners say in the open letter that the bill’s scope should be narrowed to exclude libel and privacy cases. The campaigners have strong objections to the measure, which was called ‘unjust’ in the letter, as it will only result in severe restrictions to ordinary Brits in libel and privacy cases when it comes to access to justice. Transparency in the public interest, free religious debate, and scientific breakthroughs could all be threatened under this new bill, with ordinary defendants finding it harder to find support for legal actions taken against them by large, deep-pocketed institutions that wish to silence whistle-blowers.
Moreover, victims of abuse from tabloids will have no recourse against tem for gross misrepresentation, false accusations, or phone hacking attempts, the letter also said.