Media coverage targets greedy solicitors and rising costs

The FT led coverage of the Jackson review on the basis that accident victims pay "success fees" to lawyers out of any compensation they are awarded.

He said "no win, no fee" lawyers acting for a successful claimant should be unable to charge the losing defendants "success fees" - which have come under fire for being too high.

As a result, personal injury compensation pay- outs should increase by 10% to help victims bear any increased legal costs, he said.

The FT also noted the scrapping of referral fees worth up to £800.

Bonanza comes to an end

The Times led on ending the bonanza of “no win, no fee” deals and cutting millions from the £140m paid out annually in legal costs by the National Health Service. They would also reduce costs in accident, libel and privacy claims and lead to many accident victims recovering more damages, it said.

The proposals would “bring the costs of civil litigation back under control and promote access to justice”.

Jackson did say US-style contingency fees, where lawyers act for a share of the damages, would be permitted, though with controls. Costs in accident claims of up to £25,000 should be fixed.

Legal fees paid by the NHS Litigation Authority amounted to almost half the £312m claims closed last year. One insurer paid £73m in costs in one year — 67% of the £108.8m damages it paid.

Ambulance chasers

The Telegraph led by saying ambulance chasing lawyers will no longer be able to get rich on the back of controversial 'no win, no fee’ agreements.

It said the changes would mean that solicitors would be incentivised to compete with each other on who would take the smallest share of their client’s payout.

The Telegraph reported examples where for damages of just £1,000 lawyers running up bills of £10,500. In another, £5,000 damages were paid out, although legal costs were more than £30,000.

So-called “claims farming” companies should also be banned from selling personal injury cases to lawyers for a fee, he said.

Lord Justice Jackson also suggested that more families should buy legal insurance to cover their costs in the case of "nuisance" rows with their neighbours.

Libel law

The Guardian led on the impact on libel cases stating that media groups that lose libel cases should no longer have to bear the extra costs of success fees.

Jackson said CFAs had been "the major contributor to disproportionate costs in civil litigation in England and Wales".

"If a media organisation loses a case, they have to pay their own fees, the claimant's fees, a 100% success fee which multiplies the claimant's costs by two, and after-the-event insurance, which is often 65% of the sum insured," Jackson said. "This means that the defendant ends up paying something approximately four times the cost."

Jackson also suggested that the use of juries in libel trials should be reviewed on cost grounds. Trials involving juries cost 20% to 30% more than a hearing by judge alone, he said.