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No-Win-No-Fee Must Be Simpler

No-win-no fee arrangements were originally created to provide transparency and easier access for justice for claimants. Its primary aim was to play a central role in ensuring this access for genuine claims. For many consumers, it is the main way to right a perceived wrong and balance the scales of justice.
In the opinion of the government-and the many critics of the system-the name no longer conjures up thoughts of justice and transparency, but confusions, unrealistic hopes of compensation and abuse.
It is for these very reasons that Civil Justice Minister David Lammy has published proposals to change the no-win-no-fee system. The consultation paper is entitled ‘Making simple CFA’s a reality’ and its proposals aim to make conditional fee agreements more transparent and provide a better deal for consumers, solicitors and defendants.
One of Lammy’s major concerns is that arrangements can sometimes be too complex and opaque, and that this may inadvertently lead consumers to believe that there is absolutely no cost whatever to them to incur, especially if they win a claim. This ‘read the small print’ feature of the arrangements should be eradicated and the proposals look to help consumers understand exactly where they stand regarding what kind of compensation they can look to receive if they win a claim, and how that sum is distributed at the final stage.
Lammy has also stated that new draft regulations will be submitted for debate after looking at responses to last year’s consultation paper. For instance, one of the proposals is to remove as far as possible the detailed client care and costs information requirements from the current regulations so that the main way to regulate solicitors' conduct and client care for CFAs, is through the Law Society's practice rules and supporting guidance.
Indeed, working with the Law Society is seen as the most ideal way to simplify the regime. One of the revised aims is to continue to work with and support the Law Society in its development of a revised costs information guide and new model CFA agreements to support the main types of CFA to be used under the proposed new simplified regime.
The overall aim of this simplification is to ensure that consumers receive more protection. By changing client care guidance and sanctioning non compliance, this sends a message out to solicitors to improve their integrity and competence in the legal profession.
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