The Access to Justice Act 1999 paved the way for new court rules which will enable claimants to recover lawyers' success fees and after-the-event insurance premiums from their opponents instead of having them deducted from compensation awards. The government has announced it will introduce new regulations for conditional fee agreements, which will:
Enable conditional fee agreements to be used in all civil non-family proceedings
Set the maximum level of a success fee at 100% of the solicitor's normal costs except in certain specialised cases such as complex building disputes
Prescribe the information the client should receive from the legal representative
Allow the government to approve membership organisations eligible to recover their self-insurance costs in successful cases.
Set out the maximum amount recoverable for the self-insurance element by a membership organisation.
New Rules of Court will:
Provide for opponents to be notified that a claim is supported by a conditional fee agreement bearing a success fee and an insurance policy
Provide appropriate sanctions for non-disclosure
Enable an unsuccessful opponent to challenge the level of the success fee
charged by the claimant's solicitor
Provide the court with relevant information about a success fee and insurance premium when assessing costs
Deal with the assessment and recovery of costs in cases which settle before proceedings are issued
Enable the defendant to challenge the amount of a recoverable insurance premium.
For a copy of the report telephone 020 7210 8774.
The government is consulting on proposed changes to court issue fees, which will add an additional 12% across the board to existing court fees but abolish the£80 allocation fee for claims up to£1,000. This money will be recouped by adding£5 on top of the 12% increase for claims up to£1,000. The increases will take effect on 25 April.