Belfast Telegraph

Friday 11 July 2014

Lawyers may face US-style fees move

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke said the UK may adopt a US-style system for payments to lawyers

Personal injury lawyers in England and Wales may get a cut of a claimant's damages in a bid to reduce costs, the Justice Secretary has said.

Kenneth Clarke said a move towards US-style payments to lawyers, where some of the costs are recovered out of the damages awarded, could also help avoid the situation where a defendant is tempted to settle and end the case before legal costs start mounting.

Lawyers currently paid on a no-win, no-fee basis, can double their fees in cases they win, which has led to a significant increase in costs.

Mr Clarke told BBC Radio 4's Law in Action programme: "You should not have a situation where, regardless of however frivolous the claim is, the sensible thing for the defendant to do is to settle, get out, before the legal costs start running up.

"A very experienced judge, Sir Rupert Jackson, has come up with some very good recommendations which I find, and the Government finds, very attractive.

"But they will involve perhaps moving toward the US system whereby some of the costs are recovered out of the damages which are awarded."

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "We will be consulting shortly on how 'no win no fee' conditional fee agreements should be improved."

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