Legal funding reforms what now?
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BL Claims Solicitors specialise in personal injury, clinical negligence and travel claims, providing our clients with hands-on support, nationally.
We are rated as one of the top firms in the UK and believe in speaking to our clients in jargon-free language and ensuring you're speaking to a highly qualified lawyer right from the outset
Bringing a claim without adequate funding is a bit like trying to go on a very long journey in your car without enough petrol in the tank. So how do you plan your journey in the new legal landscape?
The reforms breach the principle that injured claimants will receive all their damages. They transfer some of the cost of litigation from insurers and public bodies, instead on to the injured persons bringing claims. It is said the justification is that access to justice should take account not only of the ability to bring claims but also being able to defend them at a reasonable cost. This means it will now be the norm for successful claimants to have to contribute some of their damages to fund the cost of bringing their claim, up to 25% of the elements of general damages and past losses. Those are respectively the damages for pain, suffering and loss of ability to do your usual activities and for your financial losses to date.
You will need to think carefully for the value you get for that contribution. Some comfort is provided by a 10% increase in the general damages from 1 April 2013 to pay for this contribution. That breaches another principle by mixing up the compensation with money needed for legal costs.
If I were looking at lawyers to bring a claim, I would want to know what I am getting for my up to 25% contribution.
- Could the cheaper option in fact be poorer value?
- Is my legal team more likely to:
- get a bigger award for me;
- do the work more quickly;
- keep me informed;
- explain the issues to me carefully;
- analyse the issues with a specialist in-house team;
- support me and my family through the process;
- provide the full range of legal specialist services needed if my claim is complex;
- access high quality independent medical experts;
- access the best barristers;
- access specialist financial advice for my award; and tailor its approach to my needs?
- Will they guide me with my funding options and explain to me how a conditional fee agreement will now work?
- Are there any alternatives? and do I still need to take out insurance in the new legal costs regime against the risk of losing or not beating an offer from the other side?
The type of insurance needed now is a complicated issue, all the more important because clients will be paying for some or all of it and I guess that is what the reforms intend.
Stick to the basics, I suggest. Look for firms with a great track record of bringing cases like yours and which have the skills, confidence and resources to look after clients. Ask for funding advice and what the contribution you are paying is going to give you.
We are always delighted to provide initial advice if you are thinking of bringing a claim but you are not sure how to get started. Please just contact me on 0207 814 5449 or email me.
Partner, Head of team
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