Conditional fee arrangements for legal aid

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University of London
Essay:
Analyse the advantages and disadvantages of conditional fee arrangements for legal aid.

3. Analyse the advantages and disadvantages of conditional fee arrangements for legal aid. Conditional fee arrangements (CFAs) are the most important ways of access to justice in legal aid system. The legal aid also called public funding was introduced after World War II to enable people who could not have access to justice such as affording the services of lawyers, solicitors or legal representative to be provided with those services by the State. One of the essential ways of access to justice to people is via CFA. The latter are mostly increasing in terms of funding and it has become popular in England and Wales. The importance of CFAs are seen under S 58 of Court and Legal Services Act (CLSA)1990 where it provides the Lord Chancellor to introduce CFA system in personal injury, insolvency and human rights cases but it cannot apply for criminal cases, family cases and those involving children under S 58(10) of CLSA 1990. For family, housing and social welfare cases are funded by the Community Legal Service. If claimants fall outside the Community Legal Services fund and Criminal Defence Services, claimants will be automatically fall under the CFA. However, there are some favorable benefits and also some detriments of the conditional fee agreements. CFA is an agreement between solicitors that is drawn up when the client wishes to make a claim. The CFA was first introduced in 1989 by Lord Chancellor on an entire Green Paper which sought opinion on the funding of litigation. The litigation is funded by the claimant only. Furthermore, if the claimant wins his/her case, the lawyer fees will only be part of the damages payable to the claimant. This is a major advantage of the conditional fees arrangements. It has been a means by which thousands of people are getting equal access to justice and moreover thousands of personal injury cases have been bought. Many personal injury cases would not have been bought if CFAs had never existed. Speaking in the House of Lords on 23 July, the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine said “these agreements will result in a huge expansion of access to justice. Today, only the very rich or very poor can afford to litigate. In future, everyone with a really strong case will be able to secure his rights free of the fear of ruin if he loses. They will bring the majority of our people into access to justice”. Firstly, the main advantage of CFA is the “NO WIN NO FEE” arrangement. The No Win No Fee arrangement was announced by Lord Chancellor Lord Mackay on or about August 1993. The System was implemented in June 1995 by the Lord Chancellor himself. The No Win No Fee arrangement is defined by S 59 of Solicitors Act 1974, whereby a solicitor and his clients made in writing by which the solicitor is to be remunerated by a gross sum or fees agreed at an hourly rates or otherwise and whether higher or lower than that at which he would normally be remunerated. Nowadays, the No Win No Fee arrangement is very popular, because if the claimant is unsuccessful in his/her cases, he does not have to pay the solicitor or barrister any fees. This mechanism is called No Win No Fee arrangement. If the claimant wins his/her case, he/she will not remove any single penny in his/her pocket to pay legal fees. A percentage of the amount of damages or compensation awarded to claimant will automatically goes for the solicitors fees. The claimants or defendants will not have to worry about the legal fees and therefore this scheme of No Win No Fee arrangement reduces the anxiety of having to pay huge fees. Also the lawyers or solicitors can uplift the fees...
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