23 November 2010
The findings of an Oxford study into litigation funding and costs published by the Foundation for Law, Justice and Society (FLJS) will be implemented by the UK Government in proposals to reform the funding of civil cases announced by the Ministry of Justice last week. The governmentâs plans come in response to recommendations by Lord Justice Jackson, whose costs review was informed by research undertaken at Oxford University into civil litigation in thirty-five countries, and published in an FLJS policy brief in September.
The proposals focus on reform of conditional fee agreements (CFAs) to ensure that defendantsâ costs are proportionate with the claim, and to reduce the cost to the tax payer of funding civil cases. Under the new proposals, legal fees will be recovered from damages awarded to the successful claimant rather than from the losing party. This follows the American âno win, no feeâ arrangement which allows greater access to justice by enabling claimants who would otherwise not be able to afford the cost of litigation to bring a case.
The Oxford study is part of the EU Civil Justice Project, which is a new pan-European academic initiative to research dispute resolution issues, whether using courts or alternative procedures and techniques, and build up an evidence-basis to support policy decisions on best practice in dispute resolution for the twenty-first century.
The researchers are undertaking a further study on litigation funding, with initial results indicating that independent funding gives rise to fewer conflicts of interest than lawyer funding. The findings of this study will also be published by FLJS in 2011.
"This work will make a valuable contribution to the debate which lies ahead about how the costs and funding rules of England and Wales should be reformed in order to promote access to justice.
Lord Justice Jackson
The policy brief represents the first publication in the Foundation for Law, Justice and Societyâs new European Civil Justice Systems programme. The programme aims to investigate all options for dispute resolution in a European state, analysing the principles and procedures that should, or do apply, evaluating effectiveness and outcomes, and proposing new frameworks and solutions.
Findings of a Major Comparative Study on Litigation and Funding Costs
Christopher Hodges and Stefan Vogenauer