Fixed recoverable fees for accidents at work; “No win no fee” arrangements.

Thursday 30 September 2004 at 5:39 pm | In News | Post Comment

Fixed recoverable success fees for road traffic accident claims were introduced on 1 June 2004. Further stability, certainty and transparency will be brought to conditional fee agreements on 1 October. Fixed success fees are extended to the estimated 48,000 annual claims brought for accidents at work.

New Civil Procedure Rules will fix the success fee paid by a defendant’s insurer to the claimant’s solicitor or barrister where they are funded by a conditional fee agreement. For example, insurers will pay solicitors their normal costs plus a success fee of 25 per cent of these costs if they win cases that settle prior to court and a 100 per cent success fee for the riskier cases that go to trial. The new rules implement an agreement facilitated by the Civil Justice Council and DCA between representatives of the legal professions and the liability insurance industry designed to make recoverable legal costs more predictable, to speed up the settlement of cases and to reduce claims costs.

Before you ask…. The new National Minimum Wage rates are as follows:

Thursday 30 September 2004 at 4:29 pm | In News | Post Comment

Main (adult) rate for workers aged 22 and over
£4.85 per hour from 1 October 2004 (an increase from £4.50 an hour)
Development rate for workers aged 18-21 inclusive
£4.10 per hour from 1 October 2004 (an increase from £3.80 an hour) NB: The development rate can also apply to workers aged 22 and above during their first 6 months in a new job with a new employer and who are receiving accredited training.
A new rate for 16 and 17 year olds
The Government has accepted the Low Pay Commission’s recommendations for a new rate for 16 and 17 year olds (above compulsory school leaving age). £3.00 per hour from 1 October 2004 

NB: 16 and 17 year old apprentices will be exempt from the new young workers rate.
DTI website here

Law Reform – influences on Parliament

Thursday 30 September 2004 at 4:20 pm | In News | Post Comment

The Costs in Criminal Cases (General) Regulations 1986 which enables a the court to make a third party costs order, was largely inspired by the abandonment, following a Sunday Mirror article, of the trial in the “Leeds Footballers” case(R v Woodgate & others), wasting costs of about £1million. Before this amendment the courts only had power to make wasted costs orders against the legal or other representative of a party to the proceedings where “wasted costs” have been incurred by any party to the proceedings as a result of any improper, unreasonable or negligent act or omission on the part of the legal representative or his employee.

Persons or newspapers that cause criminal cases to collapse will be faced with the costs of the aborted trial

Monday 27 September 2004 at 2:26 pm | In News | Post Comment

When a high profile case collapses – because of newspaper reporting or because of the behaviour of some party not involved in the proceedings – the financial cost can be enormous. Until now there was nothing that could be done to make the offending newspaper or other person responsible pay for the loss.
The Costs in Criminal Cases (General)(Amendment) Regulations 2004, is amending legislation that confers powers on magistrates’ court, the Crown Court or Court of Appeal to make an order against a third party to pay costs incurred by a party to criminal proceedings if there has been serious misconduct by the third party and the court considers it appropriate, having regard to the misconduct, to make such an order against him. A third party costs order may be made at any time after the criminal proceedings. An order may also be made during the proceedings, but only if the court decides that there are good reasons to do so.

Law Society to split into two?

Saturday 25 September 2004 at 8:59 pm | In News | Post Comment

We thought the arrangements for investigating complaints about solicitors was sorted and unlikely to change for a while…wrong, again. It appears that the Law Society has decided this week to divide into two, one part to investigate complaints and be the regulating body, the other bit to be the ‘trade union’ for the solicitors. No detail is known yet, but no actual changes would be possible until 2007/8.

This comes ahead of the “Clementi Review”, is the Law Society expecting some criticism and acting first? In February the Lord Chancellor appointed the Legal Services Complaints Commissioner to oversee complaints handling, and recently gave her powers to fine the society up to £1m if its performance failed to improve.
Statutory Instrument, here.

First black high court judge appointed

Monday 13 September 2004 at 6:58 pm | In News | Post Comment

3rd September
The Lord Chancellor has appointed the first High Court judge from a minority ethnic background.
Linda Dobbs, QC former chairman of the Criminal Bar Association will take up her post next month.
There are currently only 9 black judges among the 623 circuit judges in England and Wales (1.4 per cent).

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