Third-party funders – access to justice warriors?

Christopher Deadman 2

Comments on UNISON’s landmark victory against the government in respect of employment tribunal fees got me thinking about the whole ‘access to justice’ argument and the role that third-party funders play. I have sat in lots of meetings over the years where funders, some even with a straight face, claim that access to justice is a cornerstone of their business. That is a statement of almost North Korean bogusness. Funders who trot out the access to justice argument are guilty of conflating the by-product of their business with the

August 17th, 2017

Value demand and failure demand

Phil Ruse

My spirits lifted recently when I read the following as the opening of an article: “The Medical Protection Society has said that the NHS could be paying out £2.6bn a year in clinical negligence costs by 2022 and that urgent action is needed before the burden becomes unsustainable.” Brilliant, I thought, does this mean at long last the NHS is going to take this seriously and hone in on medical mistakes? Sadly not.

August 8th, 2017

A victory for justice

Hannah Aziz

Last week, UNISON won what it has described as a landmark court victory against the government. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the government had acted unlawfully and unconstitutionally when it introduced employment tribunal fees on 29 July 2013. The president of the Law Society, Joe Egan, has commented on the ruling: “This decision is a triumph for access to justice, and a resounding blow against attempts to treat justice as a commodity rather than the right it is.”

August 3rd, 2017

It’s good to talk

Sian Brookes ALP 2

I view getting out and meeting people as one of the most important aspects of my solicitor liaison role. Recently, following a very productive meeting, I started thinking about successful relationship building and, if asked for a top tip, what professional advice I would give to a law firm. I’ve been visiting, on average, six different solicitors’ practices each month for almost 14 years now but surprisingly it didn’t take me long to settle on what I would say. Namely, “talk to your ATE provider, stay in touch”.

July 26th, 2017

Making ATE pay – litigators need to play their part to keep market vibrant

Christopher Deadman 2

The recent announcement by Elite Insurance to cease writing new business will have surprised many seasoned watchers of the after-the-event (ATE) insurance market. Elite enjoyed a good reputation as a well-run and experienced participant and, although we can only guess as to the role that its ATE division played in this decision, it should provide litigators and funders alike with plenty to think about. There is no doubt that the ATE market is a tough space in which to make a profit. Successive increases in insurance premium tax, LASPO and general red tape cannot have helped, but litigators themselves must shoulder part of the blame when we consider why it is so hard to make ATE pay.

July 19th, 2017

What does Elite going into run-off means for the ATE market?

Mike Knight ARAG

It is almost a year since my colleague Paul Hurley wrote a similar post to this, commenting on the demise of AU Insurance Services, after the small after-the-event (ATE) specialist was forced into administration.His words then seem almost eerily prophetic now in the wake of Elite’s announcement last week that it is going into run-off. He wrote: “Whatever pushed AU Insurance Services into administration, it wasn’t the first small ATE provider to fail, and it won’t be the last. But bigger firms could also be finding the current climate difficult.” The circumstance of AU’s relatively sudden demise and Elite’s apparently measured decision to move the company into run-off are, of course, very different and the causes may be too.

July 11th, 2017

Formal regulation – a price worth paying for third-party funders

Christopher Deadman 2

The comments by Lord Faulks QC last week that third-party litigation funding is “in danger of undermining the integrity of our much-admired legal system”, has been met with predictable howls of derision by those involved in the industry. The issue of statutory regulation or licensing has been on the agenda for a while but the creation of the Association of Litigation Funders, with its voluntary code of conduct has gone some way to persuading the Ministry of Justice (before the election, at least) that this is not necessary for the time being.

June 13th, 2017

Waiting for the CAT

Legal Futures Conference 2011Photo by Jonathan Goldberg

It’s now been four months since the permission hearing for the first use of the consumer class action powers created by the 2015 Consumer Rights Act (after the first one registered was withdrawn). Yet still there is no white smoke from the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT). With the value of the claim (against MasterCard) put at £14bn, there is a lot resting on the outcome. While the judgment will clearly largely be based on the individual facts of the case, it may give some wider clues about how the courts intend to interpret the Act.

June 6th, 2017

Fixed recoverable costs: unfair and wrong in principle?

Alex Bagnall

Are fixed recoverable costs inevitable? On 11 November 2016 it was announced that Jackson LJ was to consult on the extension of fixed recoverable costs. That announcement was clear: those involved were to “look at options to extend fixed recoverable costs much more widely”; and to “develop proposals for extending the present fixed recoverable costs regime”. It was said that “the momentum is heavily for reform” and that the purpose of the review was to provide “opportunity for comments and submissions on the form and scope that reform should take”.

April 18th, 2017

Why the NHSLA should not run the new ADR scheme for birth injuries

Adam Sampson

In a world where the cost of legal claims against the NHS, already some £1.5bn, is set to increase by a further £1bn simply as a result of the changes to the Ogden discount rate, it is scarcely a surprise that the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) is being encouraged to find alternative methods of settling disputes. So the news that it is agitating to take ownership of the proposed new birth injuries scheme as the cornerstone of their new commitment to settling disputes by consensus rather than via litigation should not come as a surprise. But just because the move would suit an institution looking for a new purpose does not make it right for claimants (and their representatives).

April 10th, 2017