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Lawyers face US-style fees change

Lawyers face US-style fees change

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has said that personal injury lawyers in England and Wales may get a cut of claimant's damages in a bid to cut costs.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Law in Action programme, Mr Clarke said such a move could help avoid the situation where a defendant is tempted to settle and end a case before legal costs start mounting.

The system is widely used in the US, where costs are recovered out of damages awarded.

Lawyers currently paid on the no-win, no-fee model can double their fees in case they win – leading to a huge increase in costs.

Mr Clarke said: "You should not have a situation where, regardless of however frivolous the claim is, the sensible thing for the defendant to do is to settle, get out, before the legal costs start running up.

"A very experienced judge, Sir Rupert Jackson, has come up with some very good recommendations which I find, and the Government finds, very attractive.

"But they will involve perhaps moving toward the US system whereby some of the costs are recovered out of the damages which are awarded."

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "We will be consulting shortly on how 'no win no fee' conditional fee agreements should be improved."

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