DAS criticises Jackson after he condemns conditional fee arrangements in a test case.
Lord Justice Jackson, who is responsible for proposals to reform civil litigation costs, has described as “grotesque” the funding arrangements in a case which allowed the claimant’s solicitor to deduct costs from their client’s damages.
The comments were made by Lord Justice Jackson in his judgment in the Court of Appeal case of Pankhurst v. White.
However, DAS says that Lord Jackson’s own proposals would result in solicitors deducting costs from claimant damages in nearly all cases.
Kathryn Mortimer, Head of Legal Services at DAS, highlighted the fact that, if Jackson’s own proposals were adopted, solicitors would be entitled to deduct up to 25% of a claimant’s damages.
She said: “This was a long-running and very high value case involving complex technical issues, and the funding arrangements were not at all typical.
"Nonetheless, Lord Justice Jackson is using this as an opportunity to support his contention that the current Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) system is fundamentally flawed.”
“Deduction of legal costs from damages is at the centre of the reforms proposed by Lord Jackson. In fact, had his reforms already been in place, the solicitors in this case could have charged their client up to a quarter of his damages, at least 10 times the amount that was due under the funding arrangement that Lord Jackson has described as “grotesque”.
“This is an exceptional case and not at all representative of the vast majority of claims that are handled under CFAs. However, the catastrophically injured client was able to obtain access to justice under existing CFA arrangements, which will be fundamentally undermined by Jackson’s proposed reforms.”
“Politicians are invariably and often rightly criticised when they try to exert influence over the judiciary. It seems just as inappropriate for a Court of Appeal Judge to use his judicial position to make a blatantly political point about the proposals he has put before government."