From Coventry v Lawrence to minimising the effect of Legal Aid – …
6th August 2015
The judgment is in and despite the apparent idiosyncrasies of challenging an Act which has already been repealed, it appears that common sense has prevailed (disbelieving mutterings to a minimum, please).
A year since alarm bells started ringing across the realms of costs and funding, the Supreme Court has returned a verdict to what was, in the end, a seemingly simple question: was the system of CFAs and ATE insurance in place under the Access to Justice Act regime compatible with the European Convention of Human Rights?
The answer, by majority, is yes (cue sighs of relief all round) and as a result, clients need not worry that their pre-LASPO premiums will come out of damages. Instead, losing parties remain liable to pay the success fees and ATE premiums, with it being decided that the regime strikes the right balance between different types of litigant. Indeed, whilst acknowledging that the system was not perfect, the legislation had the legitimate aim of securing the widest public access to legal services – in other words, everybody did a (reasonably) good job.
However, rather topically, the majority also drew attention to the fact that under the new Jackson regime, there remains winners and losers. There is no perfect solution, it was said, to the problem of how best to enhance access to justice in the absence of a system of legal aid. This is certainly true, although it seems that I am currently sat (literally if you saw the stack of paperwork under my desk) on a partial solution. Third-party funding with the safety net of an insurance policy is already allowing claimants to pursue cases they otherwise could not have done.
Oh, and guess what, we can organise that for you!