The Catholic aid agency for England and Wales warn that “if the bill is adopted in its current form, it will become too costly for UK lawyers to defend poor people against human rights abuses committed by British multinationals.”
The Government’s new ‘Legal Aid Bill’ seeks to prevent ‘ambulance chasing’ by legal firms using ‘no win-no fee’ arrangements to claim large success fees from defendants. However, its sweeping provisions will also remove the ‘success fee’ paid to specialist law firms that bring human rights abuse cases against UK multinationals operating overseas, substantially reducing the economic viability of these cases for those firms. These provisions will therefore prevent many claimants in poor countries seeking justice in the UK, even though they are not currently eligible for legal aid and the legislation will therefore provide no savings to the taxpayer.
Analyst for Catholic aid agency CAFOD, Karen Luyckx, said: “This is an unintended casualty of the Legal Aid Bill, and the Government must wake up to it. If the bill is adopted in its current form, it will become too costly for UK lawyers to defend poor people against human rights abuses committed by British multinationals. If a company knows that the prospect of action in the UK courts is limited, the deterrents that often curb their behaviour overseas will disappear.
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