Lucy Keane comments on the UK government’s plans to reverse the Supreme Court’s PACCAR decision in Global Arbitration Review

By Lucy Keane
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Lucy Keane
Lucy Keane

Counsel Lucy Keane comments on the news that the government is planning legislation to reverse the UKSC’s PACCAR decision, following the lawsuit against the UK Post Office and highlighting the need for litigation funding.

Lucy’s comments were published in Global Arbitration Review, 16 January 2024, and can be found here

“Litigation funders and law firms are breathing a huge sigh of relief on today’s news that the Government is to introduce legislation to alleviate the potential devastation caused by the recent decision of the Supreme Court in the PACCAR case. That decision took funders by surprise, causing many to re-consider the terms of their LFAs in order to avoid potentially catastrophic consequences.

More importantly the Government’s decision is crucial in ensuring public access to justice, something that is fundamental in a modern civilised society. Public funding for justice has been cut so drastically in recent years that litigation funding is now a vital lifeblood for those seeking access to justice, not just in competition claims, such as PACCAR, but also in the wider sense. Without it, access to justice is denied for those of limited means and the balance is tilted in favour of those with deep pockets such as multi-nationals and well-funded institutions. For the benefit of all, that can never be a good thing.

The Government’s desire to introduce legislation now is perhaps influenced by the recent publicity surrounding the Post Office and its mistreatment of the many Sub-Postmasters who came to grief as a result of the failings in the Horizon software. The group litigation, which was so adeptly brought to life in the ITV series “Mr Bates v The Post Office”, was only made possible by litigation funding. This only serves to highlight how necessary it is for claimants to have access to justice by utilising litigation funding, which is now firmly in the public eye.

This is a hugely significant outcome for the litigation funding industry, whose importance to the administration of justice is now being acknowledged in a much wider setting than technical claims before the Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT). The Government’s announcement today is a clear signal that it supports the need for litigation funding  and realises the benefit to society that it brings.

It is to be hoped that the proposed legislation will move quickly through Parliament so that funders, lawyers and claimants can have clarity and can move on from the PACCAR decision.”

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