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Contingency cap not enough says solicitors (12 February 2013)

Date: 12/02/2013
Duncan Lewis, Legal News Solicitors, Contingency cap not enough says solicitors

Less than a third of lawyers surveyed believe that the MoJ’s contingency fee caps, which are to come into force from 1 April 2013 along with the rest of the Jackson reforms, were high enough. The survey was a joint effort by the Solicitors Journal and the Association of Costs Lawyers.

About 48 percent said the limits on fees of 25 percent of damages for personal injury cases, 35 percent for employment cases and 50 percent for all other cases were not high enough. A total of 23 percent said they were not sure.

But there were few with a slender majority who think that contingency fees would replace conditional fees after April. The online poll was conducted on 201 respondents all but 20 of whom were solicitors.

Some 39 percent agreed that the ATE insurance industry was going to be demolished by the Jackson reforms, with 48 percent forecasting it would not be entirely decimated. Still 44 percent of respondents thought most solicitors would continue to offer conditional fees after April 2013.

The opinion was divided equally between the respondents on whether conditional fees would be offered by solicitors.

Managing partner of a law firm described the contingency fee or Damage-Based Agreements regulations as a “dog’s dinner”. He said that the wording of the regulations were not clear whether inter parties costs were included in the amount subject to the cap or whether ATE premiums were included.

He predicted that in personal injury actions, where Qualified One way Cost Shifting (QOCS) was available, their might be little take-up or contingency fees.

Proposal of QOCS in all personal injury cases include, to take out the risk to claimants from having to pay the defendants costs if the claim failed and apply QOCS to all claimants irrespective of their means of funding with not financial tests to be conducted to find their means.

The draft civil procedure rules implementing the Jackson reform are expected to be published by MoJ tomorrow.

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