Dowler Family Urge David Cameron To Ditch Reforms To No Win, No Fee Schemes

Dowler

First Posted: 22/09/11 22:15 Updated: 22/09/11 22:21   PA

PRESS ASSOCIATION -- The family of Milly Dowler has backed the no win, no fee system which led to a multimillion-pound settlement over the hacking of the murdered schoolgirl's phone.

The Dowler family said the Government's planned reforms would have threatened their ability to bring a case against such a large company as News International.

It is understood they will receive £2 million from the publishers of the now-defunct News of the World while Rupert Murdoch will also donate £1 million to charity from his own pocket.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Sally, Bob and Gemma Dowler said they wanted to make it clear they could not have reached the settlement without a no win, no fee agreement.

But Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke is planning to reform the no win, no fee legal scheme amid fears of a compensation culture.

Under the current system, claimants do not have to pay anything if they lose a case, providing no incentive not to sue and giving people a perverse incentive to ramp up their claims, the Ministry of Justice has said.

The Law Society, which has warned that the proposed changes seriously undermine access to justice, welcomed the Dowler family's backing of the Sound Off For Justice campaign.

Des Hudson, the society's chief executive, said: "They have succeeded in making it clear to the Prime Minister that it is ordinary families with terrible life challenges that will be impacted the most. They will be the losers."

But the Government said reforms were needed to stop abuse of the system.

A Government spokesman said: "The Government is absolutely committed to ensuring that people can access the justice system regardless of their financial situation, which is why we are committed to maintaining no win, no fee arrangements. There are many deserving cases brought before the courts. But we have to stop the abuse of the system by others pursuing excessive, costly and unnecessary cases."

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Filed by Ned Simons  |