‘No win no fee’ lawyers face tighter controls in equal pay disputes

‘No-win no-fee’ lawyers at the heart of the equal pay chaos that is overwhelming local councils could face tighter controls in the future after the government announced a review of the way they work.

The Ministry of Justice has asked three senior legal academics to look at whether such arrangements in employment cases are still in the best interests of access to justice.

Justice minister Bridget Prentice said there were “growing concerns” about the actions of these types of lawyers.

“This includes allegations over the possible misuse of no-win no-fee agreements, and a potential adverse impact on the administration of justice,” she said.

No-win no-fee lawyers have proved controversial in local government by hijacking thousands of equal pay cases. Low-paid, mostly female, workers have been persuaded to sign up to these firms with the promise of winning huge damages, rather than pursuing claims with their trade unions.

Jim Savege, lead on pay for the Public Sector People Managers’ Association, said he hoped the review would stop the “hawkishness and opportunism” of the no-win no-fee lawyers. “There are better ways of achieving equal pay than giving lawyers money,” he said.

Stefan Cross, the controversial lawyer who has benefited the most from equal pay claims, said he looked forward to discussing the issues.

“It is not surprising that local government employers welcome the decision because they hope that access to justice will be restricted,” he said.

Public sector union Unison, which has been strongly critical of Cross and his colleagues in the past, welcomed the announcement.

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