Libel: Pressure to change unfair conditional fee regime

Press and pressure groups are lobbying for changes to the rules governing the 'no win no fee' regime - otherwise known as 'conditional fee agreements' under which lawyers take on a case - typically libel or privacy - on the basis that if they lose the client pays no fee (against which the lawyers take out insurance) but if they win then they are entitled to an uplift (of up to 100%) on what would be their normal fee. This cost is passed on to the losing party. The media have complained that this puts unjust pressure on them to settle claims that they might otherwise have fought.

The idea behind no win no fee or CFA agreements is laudible - it stemmed from personal injury cases and was designed to provide those who otherwise could not afford it - but had a legitimate claim - access to justice to seek compensation for the harm they had suffered. It made for, ususally, win-win situations whereby a someone who had a legitimate and supportable claim who would not normaly have access to the legal systlem or process could pursue a claim with minimal risk while the lawyer willing to take the risk of inputting their time and expertise would be compensated for taking on such risk by virtue of the enhanced level of fee they would stand to get if they won the case.

A recent example of where a Conditional Fee Arrangement was used against the press is the Naomi Campbell v Mirror case.
More comment here:
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