Civil society fears UK Gvt. proposals to reform civil litigation funding will restrict ability of lawyers to take on human rights cases against multinationals

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Article
9 May 2011

[PDF] Implications of the Jackson Civil Costs Reforms for Human Rights Cases against Multinational Corporations [UK]

Author: Corporate Responsibility Coalition

The UK government has recently proposed wide-ranging reforms to the costs regime for civil litigation following a review by Lord Jackson. The…reforms will significantly restrict the ability of claimants and their lawyers to recover legal costs from defendants. They will have particularly devastating consequences for human rights claims against multinational corporations (MNCs)... [in particular:] MNCs will no longer have to pay a success fee in the event that a case against them is successful…MNCs will only have to pay claimants’ basic legal costs insofar as they are ‘proportionate’ to the compensation received…in reality…[this] will mean that wherever the costs of a claim exceed the compensation awarded (which, as explained, is almost inevitable in cases against MNCs), MNCs will have strong grounds for resisting payment of the additional costs, even where they were essential to the success of the case…[and] [i]nstead of MNCs paying the full costs, the reforms propose that a proportion of the costs are instead taken out of claimants’ compensation.

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Article
27 April 2011

Early day motion 1762: Civil Litigation Costs Reform [UK]

Author: Lisa Nandy, Wigan MP (Labour)

That this House expresses concern that the Government's proposals for reform to the costs regime for civil litigation will have particularly devastating consequences for human rights claims against multinational corporations (MNCs); notes that the costs of taking such cases often significantly exceeds the amount of compensation awarded; believes that, far from perpetuating a litigation culture, the no win no fee model enables a more level playing field between claimants and MNCs and that claimants' lawyers shoulder a significant financial burden throughout the duration of each case as well as the risk of losing all the costs incurred if the case is unsuccessful; calls on the Government to re-think the abolition of success fees so that MNCs will continue to have to pay a success fee in the event that a case against them is successful; opposes the introduction of contingency fees, so that claimants will not be forced to pay for costs out of their compensation; and further calls for the definition of proportionality used to include specific reference to international victims of MNCs' activities.

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