Looks like the 'no win, no fee' gravy train for lawyers may have hit the buffers. Success fees that lawyers can charge for winning defamation cases in no win, no fee agreements should be reduced from 100% to just 10%, Justice Secretary Jack Straw announced today.The proposal aims to prevent court costs in defamation cases spiralling out of control, deterring journalists and writers from publishing articles which are in the public interest, or forcing them to settle rather than defend defamation actions. It will now be subject to a consultation period of four weeks.
The Justice Secretary said: "Freedom of expression and investigative journalism are fundamental protections to the democracy of this country. I have recently announced a review of the law of libel, with a working group to consider whether the law of libel, including the law relating to libel tourism, in England and Wales needs reform, and if so to make recommendations as to solutions.
"I am, however, aware of the growing concern about the high legal costs in defamation and some other publication cases brought under conditional fee agreements. Lawyers need to recover their costs and be rewarded for their efforts and the risks they undertake when providing people with access to justice in “no win, no fee” cases. But evidence suggests that the regular doubling of fees that currently takes place is simply not justified and the balance of costs between claimant and defendant needs to be reconsidered."