Posted by Christopher Deadman, sales director at Litigation Futures sponsor Augusta Ventures
You won’t necessarily find it on the Amazon best-seller list, but last week saw publication of the Law Society’s Litigation Funding Handbook. At £69.95, it is more a coffee table book than an airport paperback but the information contained within its exquisitely bound covers is worth many times the purchase price.
The handbook provides the most comprehensive and up-to-date look at the far-reaching changes to funding and costs management in the post-Jackson era. There is now no excuse for lawyers not understanding the very latest on CFAs, damages-based agreements, after-the-event insurance and third-party funding. There are also chapters on broader aspects of the Jackson reforms, including proportionality and costs management.
In his foreword, no lesser authority than Mr Justice Ramsey said: “This comprehensive coverage makes it an essential handbook for practitioners and litigants who are considering funding options. As the Jackson Reforms bed in, the authors are to be congratulated for providing clear advice on these important issues.”
But unlike the plethora of other legal textbooks which are published each year, this one is not designed to sit on the shelf gathering dust and consulted only when some recondite area of law presents itself in a case. This book is a practical manual for the modern litigator and should sit in plain view at all times. Quite simply, it has the potential to shape the way in which litigators do business both now and in the future.
By publishing this handbook, the Law Society has removed all of the stock excuses relied upon by those litigators who refuse to move with the times. It is saying to the profession in unalloyed terms that external financing and insurance are no longer to be regarded as minority topics or the preserve of only those firms who ‘do CFAs’. They affect every litigator in equal measure.
But the most important message offered by the handbook is that the discussion with clients about the alternatives to the hourly rate is not optional – it is part and parcel of lawyers’ professional obligations.
And with that message comes the clear threat of censure to those lawyers who fail to advise their clients of their funding options. Faced with a few hours of study or being on the wrong end of a professional negligence action, there is really no argument. As Mr Justice Ramsey probably never said in his life, ‘it’s a no-brainer’.