A landmark ruling on conditional fee arrangements (CFAs) handed down by the Supreme Court today (Coventry v Lawrence [2015] UKSC 50) will stop funding arrangements potentially amounting to millions of pounds being re-opened in relation to civil court cases that started before April 2013. The case addressed the compatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights of CFAs from before the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

The Law Society intervened in the case.

Law Society president Jonathan Smithers said: “We welcome today’s ruling. We intervened because there was an important point of law about ‘no win no fee’ arrangements entered into before April 2013. As the Supreme Court said today in its ruling, a decision to declare that the previous ‘no-win, no-fee’ scheme was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights would have had a serious impact on many thousands of pre-April 2013 cases which are still being litigated, as well as claims to which the pre-Jackson costs rules continue to apply, such as mesothelioma, insolvency and publication and privacy cases.”

Jonathan Smithers continued: “such a ruling could also have caused huge confusion in the system and whatever the merits of the previous ‘no-win, no-fee’ arrangements that would not have been in the wider interests of justice.”

The case relates to mainly pre-April 2013 cases because fee arrangements then changed following Lord Justice Jackson’s review of civil litigation costs.