The Daily Mirror claimed an important victory yesterday in a ruling from The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The decision is likely to hasten the calls for reform of the rules governing legal costs.
In 2004 The House of Lords found that The Daily Mirror had breached the supermodel’s privacy in an article about her drug addiction. However, the supermodel’s lawyers represented her on the basis of a so called “No Win-No Fee” Agreement. As a result the newspaper had to pay legal costs in the region of 1million, which included a success fee payable to Naomi Campbell’s lawyers. The ECHR has now ruled that the 1million the paper had to pay was too much and that the Daily Mirror’s freedom of expression was violated by the legal costs it had to pay when it lost the privacy case. The newspaper will now consider a claim for compensation with the government.
The government had already published a green paper recently on reforming legal costs. This follows the Review of legal costs by Lord Justice Jackson. One of the main proposals in the recent green paper is that “success fees” will no longer be recoverable from the losing side in litigation.
This ECHR decision is likely to add to the pressure on these reforms going through sooner rather than later. It will also be interesting to see whether any parties involved in litigation seek to use this ruling to attack legal costs bills by arguing they infringe other human rights, such as the right to a fair trial.
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