Claimant media lawyers are threatening to bring judicial review proceedings against the Government after it unveiled proposals to introduce a 10 per cent cap on conditional fee arrangements in defamation cases.
More than 10 firms, including Collyer Bristow and Russell Jones & Walker (RJW), have come together to establish the ‘Lawyers for Media Standards’ (LMS) group.
Its mission, said RJW head of media, libel and privacy Sarah Webb, was to add balance to the ongoing debate on legal costs in defamation cases.
“[Defendant] media lawyers acting as a group have had much greater access to Jack Straw than we have,” said Webb. “There’s clearly an advantage to having a cohesive approach.”
The claimant group has raised concerns that the working party created by Straw to examine the proposals is dominated by defendant newspaper editors and lawyers. This includes director of editorial legal services at The Guardian Gill Phillips and The Sunday Times editor John Witherow.
Of the 17-strong group only two are believed to be practising claimant lawyers - Schillings partner Rod Christie-Miller and Carter Ruck partner Andrew Stephensen.
Collyer Bristow head of reputation manage-ment Steve Heffer said the Government proposals appeared to be “one-sided”.