Collective proceedings orders are like buses

Becca Hogan of Law Gazette predicts that recent landmark ‘opt-out’ cases have helped in the law of England and Wales, and the wider legal system, to combine to create an extremely powerful way for consumers to discharge their rights. With the first three opt-out collective actions having been approved, she predicts it is likely that we will see an increase in claimants pursuing breaches of competition law on an opt-out basis. Read more.

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Axiom fund set up to fill legal aid ‘black hole’, court hears

A solicitor accused of dishonestly funnelling nearly £20m of investors’ money from a legal financing fund into his own pocket has told jurors the fund was set up to fill ‘the big black hole in the market’ after access to legal aid was reduced. Timothy Schools is said to have received ‘just over £19.5m’ from the Cayman Islands-registered Axiom Legal Financing Fund before it collapsed in 2012. He allegedly used some of the money to pay for an estate in Cumbria, a personal trainer and football season tickets.

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Exclusive: Solicitors probed over client loans to fund divorce cases

Solicitors are coming under the spotlight amid growing concern about how vulnerable clients were sold loans to fund family litigation. More than a dozen people have claimed to the Gazette they felt compelled to take out the loans with Novitas, now a subsidiary of merchant banking group Close Brothers, to fund proceedings in the last 10 years. They borrowed from £20,000 to £350,000 at an annual interest rate set between 18% and 30%. Both financial and legal regulators are understood to be investigating allegations – so far unfounded – of misconduct.

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Firm urges Court of Appeal to ‘develop’ common law on champerty

London-based commercial law firm Candey has urged the Court of Appeal to ‘remove the medieval shackles of champerty from legitimate solicitor-client agreements’ and validate the assignment of a now-deceased client’s claim to his solicitors. Candey is asking the court to ‘develop’ the common law so that assignments to solicitors are permitted where it would not ‘enlarge the benefit they would otherwise have received’. The commercial firm argues the introduction of damages-based agreements (DBAs) and the growth of litigation funding means that ‘lawyers are now as much commercial parties in litigation as they are officers of the court.’

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