Cheltenham solicitors' warning ahead of changes to compensation rules
SOLICITORS in Cheltenham are warning that changes to the law will reduce the amount personal injury claimants receive in compensation.
From the beginning of next month, solicitors will no longer be able to claim legal costs from the defendant in a successful claim.
Cheltenham firm AT Law Solicitors said this would force lawyers to take a slice of claimants' compensation in order to make money out of successful cases.
Armorel Smith said: "The only viable option for personal injury lawyers will be to seek a contribution to their costs from a claimant's compensation – up to 25 per cent.
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"This means that the genuine cases where the person who has been injured, whose life has been turned upside down and may have lost earnings or even their job, will soon be expected to pay for their own legal representation out of the compensation."
AT Law helped Freddy Dowsing from Cam win compensation when he suffered elbow injuries after being knocked off his bike by a car in Crawley in November 2010.
The 36-year-old IT consultant believes the legal changes will put many people off trying to win compensation over fears they will not get as much money.
"If the 'no fee' disappears, I think it can only be in the interest of the insurance companies because it will deter people from going ahead with a claim," he said.
"When compensation is something they are entitled to because what happened has affected their lives, it is wrong for them to lose out on some of the amount."
Currently, the costs that claimants recover from defendants include a solicitor's success fee, which is calculated as a percentage of the solicitor's basic fee.
It is used to offset the risk of the solicitor not being paid anything should the claimant lose the case.
This sum is only payable if the claimant wins the case and it will usually be paid by the losing opponent.
However, from April successful claimants may be deprived of up to 25 per cent of their general damages in order to pay solicitors' success fees, as these will no longer be recoverable from defendants.
Mr Smith said it is important employees and members of the public do not fear the prospect of making a claim should they be injured at work or in an accident.