July 29, 2011

“Let them change the law,” declared Admiral main man Henry Angelheart, unrepentant in the face of calls to cease accepting acceptance fees.

The nautically inclined motor insurance provider – unlike uptight Europrigs AXA and Zurich – has no plans to turn its back on fee acceptance. This despite disapprobation from industry body the ABI, who claim that UK consumers are funding the legal profession to the tune of £2.7m a day through insurance premiums inflated by inflated PI costs.

“We are not doing anything I would not tell my mother about,” he insisted defiantly. Despite growing condemnation of such payments – recently dubbed “rotten” by justice minister Jonogly Djanogly – the Admiral man says if anyone is to blame it is the Labour government who abolished legal aid for personal injury claims, thereby unleashing on an unsuspecting nation the Pandora’s box of evil that is the whole No win no fee, ATE, referral fees complex.

But without NWNF, the Guardian pointed out this week, shamed Sunday tabloid NOTW might very well still be in business. And without CFAs many of the 3,800 potential NOTW phone hacking victims might in future find themselves unable to pursue their claims.

“Many papers, including the Sun and the News of the World, have been having a go at ‘greedy lawyers’,” ungreedy lawyer Mark Lewis told the paper,” “Their agenda has been to get rid of no win no fee. But the real issue is about access to justice.”

Certainly, getting rid of CFAs would help to put a stop to the antics of all those trouble making low lifes who’ve been making life so complicated recently for politicians, media moguls and policemen.

Clearly, there’s a difference between seeking redress for tabloid defamation and pursuing a spurious claim for a non-existent pain in the neck. But, as Lewis points out, drastic reshaping of the legal system risks “not only throwing out the baby with the bathwater, but losing the bath as well.” And if the very rule of law is under threat, that does sound quite bad.

Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan has these chilling words to impart:“The government’s proposals to make it more difficult to get a no-win-no-fee arrangements could severely damage the ability of individuals with limited financial means to take action against the nefarious practices of large corporations.”

Brazil, here we come.


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