Lords finally introduces CFA policy

The House of Lords has been forced to introduce conditional fee arrangements (CFAs), almost three years after they were brought in by other courts.

Claimants in a long-running copyright law case faced not being paid the CFA uplift after the Clerk of Parliaments, the Lords’ equivalent of a costs judge, upheld the paying party’s argument that the costs claim could not be recognised because the Lords had no procedure to handle it.

The Lords’ Appeal Committee, which is comprised of Law Lords, said the costs judge should not have ruled out in principle the recovery of the percentage uplift.

It decided that since CFAs are sanctioned in the High Court and the Court of Appeal by the Access to Justice Act 1999, they should also apply in the Lords. The Committee also held that CFAs may in future be made by parties to appeals in the Lords.

What is a CFA?

John van Issum, non-practising barrister and a College of Law lecturer, says: “It is a system of funding civil litigation where a solicitor and client agree that if a case is lost, the client will not pay his solicitor’s fees. If they win, the solicitor charges a success fee above his normal fees. The success fee represents the level of risk involved in taking the case.”