The recoverability of success fees and after-the-event insurance in defamation and privacy claims will not come to an end until costs protection is introduced in line with the recommendations of the Leveson report, the government has announced.
In a written statement to Parliament, justice minister Helen Grant said: “In the context of his Inquiry into the Culture, Practices and Ethics of the Press, Lord Justice Leveson recommended that costs protection should be extended to defamation and privacy claims. This would mean that individuals of modest means should not be in the position of bringing or defending actions without some form of protection against having to pay the other side’s costs if the case is lost.
“The government has accepted this recommendation and I am therefore today announcing that provisions relating to sections 44 and 46 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act 2012, which would remove the recoverability of success fees and insurance premiums, will not come into force for defamation and privacy claims until costs protection has been introduced for these proceedings.
“The government has already asked the Civil Justice Council (CJC) for advice by the end of March 2013 on this issue. Given that the reforms in part 2 of the LASPO Act generally come into effect on 1 April 2013, this short delay in implementation will mean the protection which currently exists through recoverable insurance premiums will continue until a new regime of costs protection can be implemented through changes to the Civil Procedure Rules.”
As reported on Litigation Futures yesterday, the joint committee on human rights’ report on the Defamation Bill also highlighted concerns over access to justice if recoverability is ended and the request to the CJC was made in the autumn during parliamentary debate on the bill. Lord Justice Jackson recommended the introduction of qualified one-way costs-shifting in defamation and privacy, which up until now the government had resisted.
The government has previously delayed the end of recoverability for mesothelioma and insolvency cases. A government concession to push LASPO through Parliament means mesothelioma cases remain unaffected until a review of the impact on sufferers has been undertaken, while the end of recoverability in insolvency is scheduled for April 2015.