MG Legal Solicitors 
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Many people are aware of the recent case between a number of Sub-Postmasters and the Post Office Group, which settled just before Christmas 2019 in the sum of £57.75 million. On first glance, this appears to be a wonderful result, even bearing in mind that there were 550 Claimants, some of whom were wrongfully imprisoned as a result of what turned out to be errors on the part of Post Office equipment that caused accounts to display a deficit. 

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What did the settlement include? 

It is now emerging that the settlement included legal fees, which earlier in 2019 were said to be at around the £35 million mark. The speculation is that after another six months of work on a highly complex case, the sum agreed does not provide for massive damages for each of the wronged Sub-Postmasters. Make no mistake, this was a case taken on by a firm of solicitors, with uncertain prospects of success and which is incredibly complex. Split across the 550 Claimants, on whatever apportionment has been agreed, would see some potential receive several hundred thousand pounds. 

Who agreed the settlement? 

Mr Alan Bates, the “lead Claimant” in this matter had the final say, although he would have doubtless consulted the other Sub-Postmasters involved. As this was a Group Action, the lead Claimant has the final say, this being a common method of dealing with claims of this type, rather than having to name and hear from 550 separate Claimants and their legal representatives. 

Was the settlement fair? 

Mr Bates, the lead Claimant, appears to think so and whilst his conversations with his solicitor are privileged, it can only be assumed that the settlement reached was, generally, favorable in the face of the overall case. It is worth noting that this was a case ten years in the making, in the High Court, with numerous, complex issues and a hotly contested set of allegations and much to lose for both sides. 

How do solicitors advise on these matter? 

MG Legal, your solicitors Longridge, have advised on cases of various values, including some valued into hundreds of thousands of pounds and so we can answer this with confidence. All solicitors follow the same principle, balancing the risk of proceeding further, with settlement at this juncture. 
We also find it beneficial for all concerned if they are aware of an “in your hand” figure they will receive. In other words, after deduction of any success fee, taking into account any other fees or interim payments, how much will be sent to the client. 

Why are settlements not split between costs and damages? 

Sometimes, this is possible and what is offered is purely what our client will receive in damages. However, since 2013, with recoverable costs significantly reduced, the Law has shifted the onus for paying some of the legal fees to the Claimant. This is generally in the form of a “success fee” deducted from damages, usually capped at 25% of the total damages and no more than 100% of the value of the solicitor’s recoverable costs. So, when settlement is agreed, the damages will include some of the legal fees payable in the form of a success fee. 

Can I ask for increased compensation to account for the success fee? 

In a single word, no, the Law has been changed to permit the deduction of the success fee and at the same time in 2013, Claimant’s damages were increased by 10%, meaning that in reality each Claimant only contributes 15% of the value of the settlement to their legal fees. The level of damages moving forward is dictated by current and prevailing Case-Law, usually set out in the reference book, the Judicial Studies Board Guidelines. 

With all these different percentages, has the system been made confusing on purpose? 

You would think so, although the changes have been brought in to try and strike a balance between what insurers say were unreasonable costs and still making Personal Injury a viable sector of the Law for solicitors to practice. Given nobody appears to have reduced insurance premiums yet, we have to wonder where all the savings made by insurance companies are going. The system is, however, what it is and MG Legal, your solicitors Longridge, will do all we can to simplify it, nor are we put off by the costs reduction, we value our clients and will still be here for you come rain or shine (or Covid 19). 

Nobody likes an unexpected bill. How do MG Legal simplify matters? 

At the start of a claim MG Legal, your solicitors Longridge, will set out our terms as clearly as possible including any success fee, following the Law Society Guidelines for doing so to ensure maximum transparency. We also, in many cases and particularly where it can be complex or if sums agreed are not a round figure, when the time comes to agree settlement, we ensure our clients know what they will receive “in their hand”. Nobody likes an unexpected bill, or not knowing a bill is coming but not how much it will be, so we will tell you what you will receive as an “in your hand payment”. If we say you will receive an amount, this is exactly what you will receive. 

How do I instruct MG Legal? 

Get in touch with MG Legal, your solicitors Longridge, by telephone, web-contact form, email or by calling into one of the offices. We will put you in touch with a member of the Personal Injury team and look to have your claim moving the same day. We aim to accept all Personal Injury claims on the basis of a Conditional Fee Agreement (no win, no fee agreement) to ensure you have the access to the representation you deserve. Whether a Road Traffic Accident at Work, Slip, Trip or Fall, Medical Negligence matter or any other type of incident where you have sustained injury, call MG Legal and see how we can help you get the compensation you deserve. 
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