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March 15, 2010

Lawyers challenge CFA proposals

Category: News

Lawyers for Media Standards threaten judicial review over decision to cap success fees at 10%


Lawyers for Media Standards (LMS) have written to Jack Straw asking him to suspend his decision to cap success fees in defamation cases at 10%.  If such steps are not taken, LMS say that they will begin proceedings for judicial review.

LMS have written a formal letter to Jack Straw following the publication of the Response to the Consultation entitled "Controlling Costs in Defamation Proceedings: Reducing Conditional Fee Agreement Success Fees". This Consultation Paper led to the decision to implement the proposal to reduce the maximum success fee.

The letter states that the decision was unlawful for a number of reasons, including that the consultation which took place was unfair and inadequate, that Mr Straw did not adequately address the substantive points which had been made by repondents to the consultation, and that the decision was based in part on "several serious errors of fact".

LMS have called for the suspension of the decision so that a proper consultation can take place.

The letter can be viewed on the Collyer Bristow website, here.

The draft Statutory Instrument which would implement the proposal, the Draft Conditional Fee Agreements (Amendment) Order 2010, has been published, here, along with an explanatory memorandum.

The Order has been drawn to the "special attention" of the full House of Lords by the Lords’ Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee in their most recent Report, on the basis that it "may imperfectly achieve its objective."  The Committee stated that they "regret that insufficient time has been allowed to produce a solution based on more robust evidence or on which there is broad agreement, and that might seem more likely to achieve the policy objective without … potential side effects."

Crossbench peer and former Commons Speaker, Lord Martin of Springburn, tabled a "motion of regret" in respect of the Order on 18 March: "That this House regrets that Her Majesty’s Government have laid before Parliament the Conditional Fee Agreements (Amendment) Order 2010 without allowing sufficient time for consultation with all of the professional and legal bodies concerned and in light of the benefit of no-win, no-fee arrangements for those on modest and low incomes."