In his article "ATE: the price is not right" (Legal Report, 7 December) Hugh Price describes the DAS ATE pricing policy as a "chump".
I can only assume that he has not used the product, nor recommended it to his colleagues, or recently experienced the policies offered by other providers. We at Pictons are of the opinion that expert and experienced solicitors should run the case and decide and advise their clients how best to proceed at any point during the claims process, whether before or after commencement of proceedings.
Clearly, close scrutiny of the merits of any case is required at all relevant stages - before inviting the client to enter into a CFA, before issue of proceedings, at key stages during proceedings and in the run up to trial. Hugh Price appears to have overlooked these safeguards.
Even Lady Justice Smith - a fine judge - also appears to have overlooked the exposure of claimants' solicitors and counsel in claims that fail at trial. Our personal injury team would not waste precious time on cases that are doomed.
However, in any case that goes to trial the defendant must have come to a reasoned decision (I would like to be optimistic in this regard) that there is at least a 50/50 chance of successfully defending the claim.
The DAS ATE product offers to carefully vetted solicitors full delegated authority to insure and run their case loads.
We do not want to be told by an insurer to withdraw a claim just because it thinks it is time to concede. Nor do we wish to jump through the administrative hoops which some providers insist on, to the extent of having to ask permission to incur any expense.
This is all to do with access to justice. I read the judgment in Rogers v Merthyr Tydfil BC with some satisfaction because it coincides with my own view that I should advise my clients to use an ATE policy that meets all reasonable require-ments of claimants' solicitors, but is also fair to defendants in that it offers a very reasonable premium if they settle at an early stage.
Those who are eventually obliged to pay more at the third premium stage have miscalculated to their own cost the strength of their defence.
John F Wardley, Pictons Solicitors