NI: Consultation launched on alternative funding for NI money damages claims

Justice Minister David Ford
Justice Minister David Ford

Northern Ireland’s Justice Minister David Ford has published a consultation on proposed changes to funding money damages claims.

The consultation comes in the wake of the Report of the Access to Justice Review Part II, published by Mr Ford a month ago.

The full report is subject to a separate consultation, but the Department of Justice is holding a specific consultation on funding money damages claims to give “appropriate consideration” to the complex issues involved.

Mr Ford said: “A previous consultation on an alternative approach to funding money damages in April 2013 failed to identify a way forward. In particular, I was concerned that the two shortlisted options entailed significant extra costs.

“I welcome the recommendations in the Report which set out an alternative method of pursuing claims with a Conditional Fee Agreement, otherwise known as a ‘no win, no fee agreement’ but with measures to prevent a significant increase in costs.

“These proposals could allow for most areas of money damages cases to be removed from the scope of legal aid, saving money without disadvantaging potential claimants. Importantly, the proposals are designed to increase access to justice by allowing those who do not financially qualify for legal aid, but cannot afford to pursue claims independently, the means to do so.

“A number of people have suggested the introduction of ‘no win, no fee’. This is a complex issue, and I am keen to hear the views of a wide range of respondents as to how best to give effect to the recommendations outlined in the Report.”

The consultation document can be found on the Department of Justice website. The consultation closes on 19 February 2016.

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