So often the whole concept of ‘No Win, No Fee’ has been portrayed by certain media commentators to be a dirty word. Could it now be that those very commentators will need to re-assess their staunch condemnation of a method of funding which often serves to provide access to justice to victims who would not otherwise have the means to do so?
It now seems that some areas in the media, who have been quick to highlight the often misguided and misrepresented belief in the rise of compensation culture in this country, have been forced to look at the merits of legal funding by way of a ‘no win, no fee agreement’ otherwise known as a Conditional Fee Agreement in this country.
It’s interesting that it has taken one of the biggest scandals in the history of the media for commentators to consider the fundamental issues of Access to Justice as highlighted by Mark Lewis, the solicitor to the Dowler Family. It is now clear that many of the victims of phone hacking who have been revealed to be normal, hard working members of the public whom themselves have often suffered great tragedies, as in the case of the Dowler family, would not have been able to pursue justice in the absence of appropriate legal funding.
The forthcoming changes to the funding structure could mean that victims of the recent scandal such as the Dowlers or the families of the July 7th bombings would have to fund their legal action from their own damages. Conversely this would also impact on genuine personal injury claims which will affect all types of injuries ranging from serious head injuries or amputations to group litigation work.
Bringing such actions will often not be financially viable for Claimants and indeed Solicitors who face the unenviable position of advising clients that despite the fact that the defendants were ultimately responsible for their injuries, they would in effect be further penalised by a system which expects their legal costs to be borne out of their own damages. This is part of an ongoing discussion with many reputable law firms such as Slater and Gordon seeking to highlight the devastating impact the prospective changes to the funding structure is bound to have on the public right to access to justice.
Alicia Alinia is a Personal Injury Lawyer at Slater and Gordon in London.
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