The Government is intent of pressing on with its plans to decimate the fees recoverable by lawyers acting for victims of accidents, despite its recent decision to delay their imposition. This is an issue which has been touched on here over the last few weeks and is likely to run and run –
This is not a question on lawyers complaining about losing some of their fees. The proposed cuts are so draconian that it will simply not be commercially viable to do the work and stay in business. Indeed some reports are predicting that about 1 in 6 firms have already made that decision. Despite this government is saying that they have carried out proper costings, according to a report in Litigation Futures –
It would be helpful if they shared that with the rest of us. All that has been said so far is that firms currently pay referral fees, those fees will shortly be banned and so the lawyer's fees should be reduced by that amount. As only a minority of firms pay such fees the logic does not add up. Indeed research by the Law Society suggests that in the real world the fees should be higher.
If the Government have realistic costings and are not simply relying on rhetoric from the friends in the insurance industry then let’s see them. Interestingly the MOJ Minister Helen Grant links the proposals to the insurers and rolls out the familiar promise that all of this will result in a reduction in motor premiums –
“These proposals were advanced in a consultation exercise which closed on 4 January and, together with wider civil law reforms, are intended to make lawyers’ costs proportionate, and create an environment where insurers can pass on savings to their customers through lower premiums.”
Is this a promise? Can we all look forward to massive reductions in premiums? I do not know a single motorist who holds out any hope of this happening. I suspect that we may see a modest reduction across the board early in 2015 – as an election approaches.
In the meantime untold damage will be done to access to justice for ordinary people.