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R (FACTORTAME LTD AND OTHERS) v SECRETARY OF STATE FOR TRANSPORT, LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND THE REGIONS (NO 8) [2002] EWCA Civ 932

Contingent fee agreement: provision of ancillary litigation services for percentage of damages: whether agreement champertous

2 August 2002

THE CLAIMANTS, Spanish fishermen, claimed damages against the Secretary of State for the unlawful prohibition of fishing in United Kingdom territorial waters. In July 1998 a firm of accountants agreed with the claimants to prepare and submit claims for loss or damage suffered as a result of the prohibition in return for 8 per cent of any damages recovered. The claimants succeeded in their claim against the Secretary of State and were awarded damages and costs. On a preliminary issue as to costs the judge held that the accountants’ contingent fee agreement was not champertous and could be enforced against the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State appealed. LORD PHILLIPS OF WORTH MATRAVERS MR, delivering the judgment of the court, said that whether maintenance and champerty could be justified was a question of public policy. The law had to be kept under review as public policy changed. Where the law expressly restricted the circumstances in which agreements in support of litiga...

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