Britain's Conditional Fee Arrangements Under Scrutiny

A decade ago, the U.K.'s Daily Mirror newspaper published a front-page photograph of supermodel Naomi Campbell outside a Narcotics Anonymous meeting with the headline, "Naomi: I am a drug addict."

Campbell felt her privacy had been invaded and sued the newspaper's parent company. In 2004, the dispute reached the House of Lords, which upheld judgment in the celebrity's favor. The breach of privacy ruling included a "loser pays" provision--a six-figure success fee on top of the damages.


Success fees, also known as "no win, no fee" arrangements, arose as a strategy to provide litigants with limited financial means more equal access to justice, usually in suits against the media and personal injury cases. A lawyer on this type of case would not charge his client for a loss. In the event of a win, the defendant would pay the claimant's attorney fees on top of damages.

Once Parliament decides how to proceed with Lord Justice Jackson's recommendations (which touch on a range of topics, extending far past the success fee question), legislation is expected to be introduced quickly.

"We may well see the fruits of this in 2012," Dury says. "It's relatively imminent, assuming nothing distracts the government in the meantime."

Assistant Editor

Christopher Danzig

Bio and more articles

Join the Conversation

Advertisement. Closing in 15 seconds.