Defamation: Claimants Condemn Reform of No Win No Fee:

Libel Phone Hacking Claimants Condemn Reform of No Win No Fee:

The 11 signatories have sent a joint letter condemning the reform of the no win no fee arrangements and supporting an amendment to the Legal Aid and Sentencing of Offenders Bill which would exclude privacy and defamation cases from the proposed CFA reforms and “any proceedings arising out of the same cause of action.”

Signatories to the letter include Bob and Sally Dowler who are the parents of the murdered school girl Milly Dowler, who received £2 million in compensation from News International. Also Christopher Geoffreys who you will recall had extensive media coverage over his arrest in connection with the murder of the Bristol architect Joanna Yeates and was awarded substantial damages from national newspapers over their news coverage.

The letter in full:

“Dear Editor 

We are all ordinary citizens who found ourselves in a position of needing to obtain justice by taking or defending civil claims against powerful corporations or wealthy individuals. We would not have been a position to do this without recourse to a “no win no fee” agreement with a lawyer willing to represent us on that basis. As was made clear to each of us at the beginning of our cases, we were liable for tens if not hundreds of thousands of pounds if we lost. Without access to a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA), which protected us from this risk, we would not have been able even to embark on the legal journey.  

We would like to voice our dismay at the CFA reform proposals in the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill which effectively remove the opportunity of people of ordinary means to seek redress when they have been libelled or intruded upon, or where they need to defend a libel claim. We do not believe this is fair or just.

While there is case for amending the way they function in practice, the current drafting of the bill will deny access to justice to people like us in the future. Tom Brake MP has tabled an amendment this week which would exclude privacy and defamation cases from the proposed CFA reforms with no extra cost to the public purse, and we call upon MPs to support that call and for the Government to discuss with those of us who have been through this experience how access to justice can be preserved for those who come after us.

Yours sincerely, 

Christopher Jefferies

Bob and Sally Dowler

Peter Wilmshurst

Robert Murat

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