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The Jackson Report Success Fees

A report compiled by Lord Justice Jackson has recommended a radical overhaul of the civil litigation system. If passed, the Bill will have a fundamental impact on personal injury victims, who may be denied the opportunity to make a compensation claim.

To help you understand how the Jackson reforms may shape the future of clinical negligence claims, we have prepared a series of articles which explore the proposed changes in greater detail. This article takes a closer look at success fees.

Success Fees The Present Position

Lawyers dealing with clinical negligence claims will usually work on a no win, no fee basis. This is otherwise known as a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA), and means a claimant's lawyer will only be paid if the case is successful. This legal bill, known as a 'success fee', is paid by the defendant's insurance company.

This has two advantages. Firstly, the successful claimant does not pay a penny and their compensation award is not diluted. Secondly, success fees ensure Conditional Fee Agreements work. This is because a law firm will not win all the clinical negligence cases it takes on. Success fees therefore balance the books, making up for the money lost pursuing unsuccessful claims.

Success Fees Proposed Changes

Under the Jackson proposals, success fees will be:-

  • Capped at 25% of past losses;
  • Taken from the injured person's compensation, rather than being recovered from the defendant's insurance company.

The Consequences

This will mean the injured person will lose another portion of their compensation, as both the After the Event insurance premium and their lawyers success fees will be deducted from the financial reward. This totally negates the aim of clinical negligence claims, which is to put the injured party back into the financial position they were in prior to the accident. In fact, the law was previously changed to take success fees from the defendant's insurance company because it was thought unjust to take it from the victim. While the proposals intend to rectify this imbalance by increasing the sum for pain and suffering by 10%, it is thought this simply will not be enough to put the victim's life back on track.

Additionally, the system of Conditional Fee Agreements will be completely destabilised. This is because success fees ordinarily balance the books for lawyers, who use the finances gained from successful cases to cover those that are lost. However, with a cap on success fees, lawyers will be reluctant to take on complicated but meritorious cases because they would not be able to fund the disbursements. Therefore the availability of legal services to injured persons will be significantly reduced. In turn injured parties will be forced to seek help via benefits and NHS treatment, transferring the cost of clinical negligence onto the taxpayer.

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Can We Help You With A Medical Negligence Enquiry?

Early legal assistance can be vital so please contact us if you would like to discuss your situation. Please call us free on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile 01275 334030) or complete our Online Enquiry Form.

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