Government proposes limiting success fees in defamation proceedings to 10%
Following Lord Justice Jackson’s review of the rules and principles governing costs in civil litigation the Government has launched a consultation seeking views on a proposal to reduce the maximum success fee which lawyers can charge in defamation and related proceedings, including proceedings for malicious falsehood and breach of confidence.
Until the wider proposals recommended by the Jackson costs report are considered, the Government, led by the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Jack Straw, has identified as an interim measure an immediate need to reduce the maximum success fees lawyers can currently charge from 100% to 10%.
While the consultation identifies that CFAs have increased access to justice, there is a perception that the interests of claimants has been favoured to the prejudice of defendants. The report identifies that in addition to placing an additional costs burden on defendants, the current regime encourages the pursuit of weaker and speculative libel claims. To this end the Government’s view is that the present success fee is not justified in the public interest. In advancing their proposal the Government has stated that it intends to “level the playing field between the claimant and defendant in defamations proceedings”.
Responses to the consultation must be made by 16 February 2010.