The time is “ripe” for a contingency legal fund (CLAF) to be set up, Lord Justice Jackson has said. In a lecture to the Professional Negligence Bar Association, in October, Jackson LJ said a CLAF could be “viable”. “Recent research suggests this,” he said.
“There is clearly a strong will amongst many in the legal profession to make such a scheme work. Furthermore the Hong Kong SLAS functions successfully on CLAF principles, without any subsidy from the Hong Kong Legal Aid Department. “Indeed, it does so on the basis of fairly modest deductions from damages and despite supporting some losing cases.”
Jackson LJ proposed that more than one CLAF and a Supplementary Legal Aid Scheme (SLAS) could be set up. He said personal injury cases could be included.
“Given the changed landscape which (subject to Parliament’s approval) will exist after October 2012, the time is now ripe for action,” he said.
“If the Bar Council decides to move from drawing board to implementation, I hope that the specialist Bar associations will see fit to lend their support.” A CLAF is fully self-financing and stands alone, with a share of the winnings from successful cases being returned to the pot to help finance others. A SLAS is also self-funding but is attached to an existing legal aid scheme and is administered by the relevant legal aid authority.
A Bar working party, chaired by Guy Mansfield QC, has been exploring the viability of a CLAF scheme.