NMA Welcomes Government’s CFA Reforms

The News Media Association has welcomed the Government’s recently announced reform of conditional fee agreements to control the costs of defamation cases.

In a written statement last week, Justice Secretary David Gauke announced that lawyer’s success fees would no longer be recoverable from the losing party in defamation and privacy cases, under the conditional fee agreement regime.

This will apply to all new cases from 6 April 2019. 

However, the Justice Secretary added that after the event insurance premiums would remain recoverable “at least for the time being.”

David Gauke said: “Having considered the responses to the consultation, the Government has now decided on a different approach that will further control the costs of these cases and will also give effect to our legal obligations under the MGN v UK judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in 2011.

“In the MGN case, the court concluded that the obligation for the defendant to pay a 100 per cent ‘success fee’ to the claimant was disproportionate, and that the conditional fee agreements regime was therefore in breach of the defendant’s rights under Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights.”

The NMA welcomed the announcement, saying that the excessive costs for publishers under the CFA regime posed a threat to freedom of expression, adding that the next step should be for after the event insurance premiums to be made non-recoverable.