Leading article: Price of justice

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The Independent Online

According to Dickens, "the one great principle of the English law is to make business for itself". Nowadays it often seems that the great principle is to run up vast costs, particularly in civil litigation cases.

The fees paid to barristers and solicitors can be more than ten times the damages awarded in some personal injury cases. But now the Court of Appeal Judge, Lord Justice Jackson, has produced a comprehensive report that aims to bring the lawyers' gravy train to a shuddering halt.

He recommends a series of reforms which will increase competition and remove some of the incentives for lawyers to drive up fees, in particular in the present notorious "no-win no-fee" arrangements.

Lord Justice Jackson is to be commended for producing a report that puts the public interest above the financial interest of the legal establishment. What a pity Dickens is not around to witness such a rare spectacle.