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Committee (7th Day)

Part of Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill – in the House of Lords at 4:45 pm on 1st February 2012.

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Photo of Lord Thomas of Gresford Lord Thomas of Gresford Liberal Democrat 4:45 pm, 1st February 2012

My Lords, it is a relief to know that the Ministry of Justice, like New York, never sleeps. No doubt the opinion will be pored over and there will be further discussions before we get to Report.

I invite my noble friend to do this now. He says that the proper way to proceed is for one-way cost-shifting to be introduced by tailored Civil Procedure Rules. Your Lordships will recall that on Monday the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, and I made the point that there should be guidance from Parliament, not simply a discussion between the Executive and the Civil Procedure Rule Committee, about the parameters of those rules and what the boundaries and structure are to be. I would be grateful to know from the Minister the position on this particular point. He is shifting the burden of the success fee and the ATE premium over to the successful claimant. Is that going to be co-ordinated and timed to come into effect at the same time as one-way cost-shifting? That is the key issue. If you do not have one-way cost-shifting, you are shifting to the claimant the liability for the defendant's entire costs, if he should lose, and consequently an enormous premium. We heard of premiums of £900,000. I am familiar with a premium of £80,000. I think that the standard is in thousands for any sort of claim. If, on the other hand, one-way cost-shifting comes in and the defendants' costs are paid by the defendants win or lose, we will be concerned with a premium for a much smaller thing, which is the disbursements of the claimant, should he lose. The risk is that much smaller.