The Court of Appeal has ruled that solicitors should be able to claim protocol costs for claims which did not go beyond the first stage.

In a judgment that has been eagerly awaited by personal injury lawyers, Lord Justice Briggs said law firms were entitled to £400 costs for claims which dropped out before Stage 2.

The case attracted interventions from both the Law Society and Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, which made submissions in favour of the claimant solicitors.

Lord Justice Briggs accepted the Law Society’s submission that the underlying objective is to ensure that those who provide legal assistance to RTA claimants should be paid at the end of each stage, rather than the end of the claims.

He rejected fears that a so-called ‘400 Club’ would encourage unscrupulous lawyers to seek authority from claimants to commence a protocol claim simply for the purpose of obtaining Stage 1 costs, without any intention of advancing the claim. Briggs said there was no evidence of such a practice developing, and it was not suggested the claimant firm in this case had done anything along these lines.