Association of Costs Lawyers granted permission to intervene in Coventry v Lawrence

CPS’ handling of fatal RTAs deemed poor
4th February 2015

Association of Costs Lawyers granted permission to intervene in Coventry v Lawrence

Arguments in favour of incompatibility may be based on incorrect or incomplete view of how the costs system worked pre-Jackson

The Association of Costs Lawyers (ACL) are concerned about the impact an adverse Supreme Court ruling may have on pre-Jackson cases still awaiting to be litigated.

The ACL is one of a number of parties that has been granted permission to intervene in the Supreme Court hearing in Coventry v Lawrence.

While the ACL is not intervening to support a particular side it will be making submissions to the court on the second of a three-day hearing. The ACL has instructed Roger Mallalieu of 4 New Square chambers to represent it.

ACL chairman Sue Nash said: “We believe the arguments in favour of incompatibility – including that it created an imbalance solely to the benefit of claimants – may be based on an incorrect or incomplete view of how the system worked before 1 April 2013, and are also concerned about the impact an adverse ruling by the court would have on the many pre-Jackson cases which are still being litigated.”

Coventry v Lawrence is, primarily, a case about nuisance. The case was run under the pre-Jackson costs regime established by the Access to Justice Act 1999.

It concerned a successful private claim, which was brought by two local residents against the occupiers of a speedway track.

The claimants won at first instance before then losing in the Court of Appeal. However, the case was referred to the Supreme Court where the residents won again.

The occupiers of the speedway track were ordered to pay £10,350 each in damages, and 60 per cent of the claimants’ costs.

The claimants’ base costs from the original trial were £398,000, plus a success fee of £319,000 and an after-the-event (ATE) premium of about £350,000, totalling £1,067,000.

The Supreme Court chose to adjourn the matter instead of ordering the occupiers to pay the success fee and ATE insurance premium.

This was to allow the Minister for Justice and Attorney General to make representations with regards to whether recoverability of the success fee and premium breached article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights; and whether article 1 of the first protocol to the convention was breached.