Dowler family urges Cameron to scrap Jackson reforms

Print This Post

By Legal Futures

23 September 2011


Downing Street: Cameron risks going down in history as the prime minister who took rights away from ordinary people, says Dowlers

The family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler has called on Prime Minister David Cameron to scrap the Jackson reforms, saying they were only able to sue the News of the World over the phone-hacking scandal because they did not have to pay for after-the-event (ATE) insurance.

Sally, Bob and Gemma Dowler told Mr Cameron – whom they met at the height of the scandal – saying they were sure he did “not want to go down in history as the prime minister who took rights away from ordinary people so that large newspapers could print whatever they like and break the law without being able to challenge them”.

The family is reputed to have secured a £3m settlement from News International, including donations to charity, but told Mr Cameron – and separately Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg – that they would not have been able to threaten their case, let alone start it, without ATE insurance recoverable from the other side.

The end of recoverability of ATE insurance and success fees is the key element of the Jackson reforms currently going through Parliament in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act.

The Dowlers said: “Although we may have received a sum that meant that the cost of the insurance would have been affordable, most cases finish with settlements that do not cover the cost of insurance and so people will not bother.”

A government spokesman said it was “absolutely committed to ensuring that people can access the justice system regardless of their financial situation, which is why we are committed to maintaining ‘no-win, no-fee’ arrangements.

“There are many deserving cases brought before the courts. But we have to stop the abuse of the system by others pursing excessive, costly and unnecessary cases. Under the current arrangements, innnocent defendants can face enormous costs, which can discourage them from fighting cases. This simply isn’t fair.”

He argued that by balancing the costs more fairly between claimant and defendant, the reforms will “ensure that claimants will still be able to bring deserving claims, and receive damages where they are due, and most importantly they will make the no-win, no-fee system sustainable for the future”.

Tags: , ,



Leave a comment

* Denotes required field

All comments will be moderated before posting. Please see our Terms and Conditions

Legal Futures Blog

The rise of the multi-disciplinary lawyer: A challenge for legal education

Catrina Denvir

The legal profession has been on the receiving end of much hype regarding the impact of technology. Recent commentators purport that the aspiring lawyer must be a triple threat, possessing knowledge of the law, coding expertise, and in-depth knowledge of legal technology. Yet, focusing on legal technology risks overlooking the need for skills that transcend latest fads. Legal technology is a means by which to handle data: to organise it, record it, extract it, analyse it, predict from it and leverage it. Quantitative and statistical literacy – the ability to understand, apply, visualise and infer from data – underpins technological literacy and yet receives very little attention from those who encourage innovation in the legal curriculum.

May 26th, 2017