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Funding Code: Criteria and Procedures

Volume 718: debated on Monday 29 March 2010

Motion to Approve

Moved By

That the funding code laid before the House on 8 March be approved.

Relevant document: 11th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, considered in Grand Committee on 23 March.

My Lords, perhaps I may ask the Minister a short question on this code before it is approved by the House. The funding code, as your Lordships will know, is intended to set out the manner in which funding of civil litigation may take place. One of the criteria expressed is that the litigation in question should be of wider public interest. Of course, if it is not of wider public interest there may be other very good reasons for allowing the funding, but wider public interest is expressed to be a criterion to be taken into account that may, in a particular case, sway the issue.

A further provision in the funding code states that, where the commission has undertaken funding and there is a substantial wider public interest, the clients may not settle the case without the agreement of the commission. A condition of the granting of the funding is that the client is required to agree not to settle without the consent of the commission. Can the Minister help me on whether that agreement between the client and the commission is thought to be legally enforceable, because I should have thought that it would be contrary to most people’s idea of the public interest in speedy litigation and very unlikely to be held enforceable? If it is not regarded by the Government as enforceable, why is it there at all? It is the client who is in charge of the litigation. That provision should be dropped and never applied.

My Lords, I hope that the noble and learned Lord will forgive me. It would have been easier for us if he had given us notice of his intention to raise this matter. The code was considered at length in Grand Committee on 23 March and, if he will forgive me, I will write to him with the answer that he seeks.

Motion agreed.