Thanks to Diana Mitchell from CASIA, here is an interesting article about access to lawyers:
Thursday October 21st 2010 The Times
Hounding No-win No-fee lawyers is an attack on the poor: Irwin Stelzer
Lord Young of Graftham and David Cameron want to rein in the activities of no-win, no-fee lawyers. Nothing to do with spending cuts, more to do with, er, snobbery. Yes, some of these lawyers engage in shady practices. But some MPs fiddle their expenses, and we don’t eliminate – we control abuses.
What his Lordship and the PM are proposing would make it more difficult for the non-wealthy to obtain justice and compensation when injured. Lord Young, the former Trade and Industry minister, is right, of course, to take an axe to health and safety regulations that profit neither health nor safety, but produce litigation. More;power to him. But he is wrong to join the Prime Minister in attempting to curb the advertising of law firms that promote no-win, no-fee arrangements to take on the representation of people with personal injury claims. “Most of the lawyers I’ve spoken to are ashamed of the activities of these people,”said Lord Young. No doubt.
Large law firms are among the most prosperous businesses in Britain. Senior partners, who often deny that their profession is an (ugh) business, often charge £1,000 per hour. The two largest firms, Clifford Chance and Linkiaters, each employ more than 2,000 lawyers and have revenues of close to £1 billion and revenue per partner of approximately £450,000 and £540,000 respectively.
Nothing wrong with high incomes. But there is something wrong when the balance already favouring them and their clients is tipped even more to the disadvantage citizens whose only recourse is to no-win law firms who must advertise themselves to bring themselves to the attention of person clients.
These no-win, no-fee firms have little incentive to take on frivolous lawsuits. They spend their own money to do the necessary research, file the pleadings, prepare for settlement negotiations – and get nothing if they lose. Consider, too, that these law firms are generally small businesses, and that the attempt to prevent them from displaying their wares is an assault on entrepreneurial risk-takers who gamble that their skill in sorting out winning cases from sure losers will earn them a decent living. Like other small firms, they hire clerks and employees, rent commercial space and generate income to be spent on the high streets.
More important – much more important for the legitimacy of the democratic system – they provide access to the judicial system for people who would otherwise be denied it. As the Government has asked its critics before: “What’s fair about that?”
Irwin Stelzer is director of economic policy studies at the Hudson Institute
Diana’s comment: I do not agree whole heartedly with Mr Irwin Stelzer. I remember when virtually a whole page of the Echo and perhaps more was filled with firms advertising for personal injury clients, that and nothing else so presumably such cases gave them rich pickings.