HC Deb 19 December 1946 vol 431 cc2144-5
2. Mr. Harrison

asked the Attorney-General what proposals the Government have for making accessible to the ordinary citizen the protection of the law courts in cases of libel and slander, in view of the prohibitive legal costs of such actions that at present prevail.

The Solicitor-General

Legal costs in actions for libel and slander are governed by the same rules as govern legal costs in other types of civil action. To some extent it rests with a party whether he incurs much or little expense in establishing his own case. If he loses, the process of taxing costs protects him from having to pay costs of the winning party in so far as they were extravagantly incurred. With regard to legal costs generally, the Rushcliffe scheme, on which I answered a Question asked by the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Hale) on 28th November, is designed to assist persons of small income; and legislation based on the general principles of the Rushcliffe scheme will be introduced when possible, although it will not be possible to do so this session.

Mr. Leslie Hale

Will the Solicitor-General consider the suggestion I have made before, which I think is an important suggestion, that costs should not be awarded against an unsuccessful litigant in civil cases unless the judge certifies that the action should not have been brought?

The Solicitor-General

I can only repeat the answer I gave before, which my hon. Friend can find in HANSARD.

Mr. Derek Walker-Smith

Would not legal costs be substantially reduced if it were possible to fuse the two branches of the legal profession in the way in which it is done in many other countries?