By Ashley Young
The High Court has prevented a claimant law firm charging 100% success fees on CFAs for hundreds of cases issued together.
The Honourable Mr Justice Turner said national firm Leigh Day must abide by the success fees set out covering different scenarios in the conditional fee agreements.
The firm brought 609 cases against the Ministry of Defence on behalf of Iraqi civilians alleging they were victims of maltreatment. Although no formal group litigation order was made, lead cases were selected and the rest stayed pending later decisions.
. Lead cases were split into three schedules. Under the first two schedules the civilians were largely successful at trial, while the third schedule were adjourned and have largely been resolved without service of particulars of claims. As noted by Mr Justice Leggatt (as he was then), the issues of cost were of ‘very great legal and factual complexity’. The claims were issued in March 2013, days before LASPO abolished the recovery of success fee from unsuccessful defendants.
The dispute arose due to a clause in the CFAs which set three levels of success fee: 33% if the case resolved without needing to serve particulars of claim, 67% if the case concluded between service of the particulars and service of the defence, and 100% if the case concluded after service of the defence.
Leigh Day argued that references to ‘the case’ should be interpreted as referring generically to any lead case of cases. As a consequence, a 100% success fee could be claimed for all non-lead cases in which no individual particulars of claim had been served.
The MoD contended that the clause limited the 100% uplift to cases in which individual defences had been served, with a 33% ceiling on all others.