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Civil litigation brief

Gordon Exall looks at the validity of conditional fee agreements and highlights some important points

28 June 2002

The conditional fee regime has been in place for 18 months and it is clear some defendants have become adept at exposing technical defects in the agreements. The consequences of this for claimants can be dire. In particular, there is a strong possibility costs will never be recoverable. Challenging the validity of conditional fee agreements produces such major benefits to the defendant that it is likely to become a major blood sport. It is essential claimants are fully aware of the range of arguments that can be used against them. Indemnity principle The indemnity principle provides that, in litigation, a party cannot recover more in costs than they are liable to pay their own lawyers. There is an argument, therefore, that if the retainer between the solicitor and the client is that the client will pay nothing then, even if the client is successful, the lawyer cannot recover costs from the unsuccessful party. It has come to a shock to many claimant lawyers that th...

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