The long awaited judgment in Coventry v Lawrence was handed down by the Supreme Court on Wednesday 22 July. The appeal was dismissed. It had sought to say that the Access to Justice Act 1999 allowing recovery of CFA success fees and ATE premiums was incompatible with Article 6 ECHR in restricting access to the court for a defendant. Whilst a declaration of incompatibility was not expected many stakeholders thought the Court might subject the success fee and the ATE premium to the test of proportionality. In the event the Court also rejected this argument although by a majority of 5:2. The result is that success fees and ATE premiums for proceedings commenced before April 2013 remain recoverable and are not subject to the proportionality test.
David Greene, Edwin Coe litigation partner commented “Practitioners will be pleased to resolve this issue. The old system is in run-off post Jackson but the issues are still significant in the run off and in the areas of litigation, such as insolvency, where the old system continues to apply. The test for the Court in considering incompatibility is not whether the legislation is fair and had flaws but whether it was a proportionate way of achieving the legitimate aim of providing access to justice for claimants in the light of the then cuts in legal aid. Certainly many claimants lawyers will be breathing a sigh of relief at the result and the effect of it on their remaining pre-Jackson cases.”
About Edwin Coe LLP
Edwin Coe LLP is best known for its work in representing large groups of the public in claims relating to consumer issues, banking, shares. It was the first firm in the UK to specialise in non-conflict class actions and as a result has been involved in many of the major mass claims over 30 years including the Lockerbie Inquiries and litigation. It is currently litigating for hundreds of investors in film investments against HSBC, for timeshare investors against Barclays Bank in relation to fraud and for investors in other schemes and for hundreds of truck owners in relation to a price-fixing cartel by manufacturers. It has represented 50,000 shareholders in a claim against the Government; 32,000 convenience store owners in competition issues; and 36,000 private shareholders in Northern Rock. It has recently settled a claim for hundreds of South American flower farmers in a claim against British Airways for price-fixing.
In addition, the firm acts in mass torts and is representing claimant victims of the Hillsborough disaster and child abuse victims.
In addition, the firm undertakes public law issues and represented the first claimant in the Article 50 litigation, MPs in the proroguing litigation, the claimant in relation to a challenge under the Good Friday Agreement and, very recently, protesters to HS2 construction.