The Liberal Nationals will vote against Labor’s Bill to allow lawyers to charge their clients success fees if this flawed Bill is not withdrawn and redrafted.
Labor’s Bill will do little-to-nothing to help vulnerable members of the community navigate Victoria’s legal system.
Daniel Andrews’ changes would however help bolster profits of significant Labor Party donors, including law firms Maurice Blackburn and Slater and Gordon.
The number of class actions has grown enormously in recent years following the entry of litigation funders to the market place. This has allowed more actions to be commenced without compromising the ethical duties that lawyers have to their clients and the courts.
Allowing lawyers to charge a success fee linked to the settlement ties the lawyers’ financial reward to the outcome of the litigation.
If this Bill passes the likely result will be higher fees being paid to Labor law firms, leaving less for Victorians who have been wronged.
Maurice Blackburn and Slater and Gordon have previously advocated for contingency fee payments of up to 40 per cent of damages, vastly more than the current norm.
Finally, even those who believe in this reform want it done at a national, not Victorian level. If Jill Hennessy wants this reform, she should withdraw the Bill and seek the introduction of a national scheme through COAG.
To do otherwise will see our already overburdened courts further clogged and disrupt the decade long efforts to harmonise the regulation of the legal profession.
Comments attributable to Shadow Attorney-General, Edward O’Donohue:
“Andrews’ legislation may enrich a small number of large Labor-aligned law firms but it comes at the expense of the average Victorians trying to navigate our justice system.
“Andrews’ flawed Bill to allow lawyers to charge American style success fees will do little to improve access to justice for the most vulnerable.”