MPs Response

‘Respiratory industrial disease is a terrible problem, and the government wants to see sufferers able to claim compensation at the earliest possible opportunity.
The MOJ is therefore working closely with the DWP to help mesothelioma sufferers who are unable to trace their employers’ insurer. The government hopes to be in a position to make an announcement on this before the summer recess’.

All good so far from my local MP in response to my nice lobbying over LASPO.

‘The no-win no-fee reforms….are simply about reducing the exorbitant fees lawyers are able to charge in these sort of cases. They will not reduce access to justice’.

Correct – but what about all the other types of claims?

‘General damages will be increased by 10% and there will be a cap of 25% on the amount of general damages that may be taken as a success fee.

No special damages can be taken as a success fee.

In PI claims a system of Qualified One Way Costs Shifting will be introduced

Legal costs will still be paid by (sic) the winning side

As the scheme stands the government would expect lawyers to consider carefully whether it is in the best interests of the client for them to claim the full 25% as a success fee.’

So claimants are not allowed to recover additional liabilities, there is no mechanism in place for QOWCS and the winner pays! Likewise, no sign of how they are going to implement the 10% increase in damages.

As for the allegation that solicitors charge exorbitant fees – it was the government of the day who introduced the scheme and scrapped legal aid. Who pays for the investigation of unsuccessful cases?

With the governments track record of implementing new systems (e-system at the Rolls Building?), the statement that the extension to the RTA portal will not be possible before April 2013….. The list of failures is getting longer by the day. And let’s not forget Prof Regan predicting other aspects unravelling. The show continues!

Advertisements

E-working

I was tempted to leave LASPO alone for a few days and digest the Law Gazette & New Law Journal  over the weekend, but then I saw the headline “E-working project scrapped”. (I also saw how many people were visiting my blog searching for such info and I thank you the readers for this.)

Intrigue made me read on to find that a major project to introduce e-working in the Rolls Building has been “shelved” due to “significant problems”. Having spent £9.5m getting nowhere fast in an attempt to enable court users to submit documents electronically, improve document management and listing, the project has been shut down.

£9.5m spent doing feasibility studies, fundamental reviews and deciding that the scope of the work required was so significant that a business case could not be made.

Judging by the slapdash efforts to put LASPO together, I would not have paid £1 for the Jackson Report and LASPO, and yet £9.5m is not enough to introduce email and cloud computing – things you can get for free from all good service providers. And yet they want to introduce LASPO, extend the RTA portal to deal with all PI cases up to £25k (and beyond at a later date) and introduce electronic billing, doing away with the experts who know about costs – the Costs Lawyer, and move to provisional assessment by Judges who are not interested and do the exercise summarily.  All of the reports involved in coming up with the Jackson report had the vague whiff of being drafted on the back of a napkin (albeit a lot of napkins) disregarding all valuable evidence submitted by people in the know, whose jobs are now endangered due to the bureaucracy and idiocy of people who cannot introduce email and cloud computing having spent £9.5million thinking about how to do it.

Forgive me for sounding as if I am having a rant. But I move on.

Following the ping pong game between the House of Commons & House of Lords, it has been confirmed now that the recovery of success fees and after the event insurance will be scrapped as of April 2013, unless the case relates to mesothelioma, where a temporary reprieve has been granted to allow for further “reports” to be prepared.  Surely these reports should have been undertaken BEFORE LASPO went to print?? We are still no nearer to finding out whether that wonderful thing known as Qualified One Way Costs Shifting (or QOCS for short) is going to happen. This means, Claimants would not be entitled to recover the cost of After The Event Insurance obtained to protect against the cost risk that still exists. Not to worry – damages are to be increased by 10%……once a case has been to Court to establish the precedent.

Might I be bold and suggest that LASPO goes the way that the e-working project has gone at the Rolls Building – on the scrap heap?

Is it the end for After The Event Insurance?

The introduction of the Legal Aid Sentencing & Punishment of Offenders Bill (LASPOB) will result in the end of the recoverability of success fees and after the event insurance between the parties. The introduction of qualified one way costs shifting (QOCS) will potentially render ATE superfluous or will it?

It is proposed that a limited form of ATE will be permitted in clinical negligence matters limited to funding of disbursements, but it is doubtful whether this will present a sustainable form of business for insurers.  So what other work will be insurable? A savvy firm may survive selling ATE on the basis of no sleepless nights. Whilst the introduction of QOCS is intended to mean the end of defendants seeking to recover their costs from losing Claimants, others see it as the future hotbed for satellite litigation. Likewise, Lord Jackson’s proposal that Before the Event Insurance will be the new ATE insurance but will it take off particularly in light of the banning of referral fees upon which BTE is reliant. As such, it is envisaged that the cost of a proper BTE package will be equivalent to in price to purchasing ATE, so why would anyone buy BTE on the off chance that they need to make a claim, when they can obtain ATE as and when required.

It is clear that the future for ATE is uncertain, but we at Carlisle Legal Costing are keeping our ear to the ground and keeping you all informed.

Why not put us to the test and contact us for advice on funding, retainers, offers or other costs queries.