Interests of injustice

Much discussion in chambers tea about the government’s proposed changes to costs and damages in civil litigation.

‘You know, when they justified taking away legal aid by allowing no-win no-fee cases, I kind of saw the point,’ said TheBusker. ‘It sort of told solicitors to put their money where their mouth was and at least in theory, the client who had a winnable case was no worse off.’

‘And it brought us more fees through those wonderful uplifts,’ said OldSmoothie.

TheBusker ignored him and continued, ‘But now they’re talking about taking the costs from the client’s own damages. I mean, he’s done nothing wrong, suffers loss and then ends up having to pay his own costs. I just don’t understand why there hasn’t been more of an uproar.’

‘But aren’t they going to compensate the client by adding 10% to the damages for the injury itself?’ said TheCreep.

‘Oh, yes, that one,’ said TheBusker. ‘In the words of Boris Johnson, an inverted pyramid of piffle if ever there was one. 10% of nothing’s nothing and we all know how ridiculously small the awards for injuries themselves are as opposed to earnings and care awards.’

‘It’s even worse than that,’ said BusyBody. ‘At least under the present system there’s an incentive to take harder cases because they may well end up getting all of their costs for doing so. Now they’re talking about limiting it to 25% of the damages. We all know this’ll mean that some solicitors will just keep the easy, dead-cert cases and ditch the rest.’

‘And settle them early no doubt as well,’ said TheVamp.

‘Under-settle, more like, said BusyBody. ‘Not exactly promoting the interests of justice.’

‘Not exactly promoting the interests of barristers either,’ said OldSmoothie. ‘Not when you figure that most of our money comes from those more difficult cases that actually reach the courtroom.’

There was silence around the room as the true reality of the reforms began to dawn.

BabyBarista is a fictional account of a junior barrister practising at the English Bar, written by barrister and writer Tim Kevan. For more information and to read posts from the last few years visit Cartoons by Alex Williams, author of 101 Ways to Leave the Law.

December 8, 2010 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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