HC Deb 24 July 2002 vol 389 cc1279-80W
Mr. Watts

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, what plans she has to regulate and control solicitors and companies who provide bonded legal assistance; and what plans she has to review her policy on protection for parties to civil actions by bonds. [73360]

Ms Rosie Winterton

Solicitors and companies providing legal assistance are regulated by a range of bodies, including the Law Society, the Financial Services Authority and the General Insurance Standards Council. The possibility of further regulation is kept under review.

Parties to civil actions have a range of methods by which they may fund their litigation. These include public funding, conditional fee agreements, trade union support or the purchase of insurance against the risk of losing and paying costs. Bonds are not one of these methods, as far as the Government are aware.

Insurance cover is available to protect against the risk of losing and paying costs. The cost of the premium is dependent on the extent of cover, the complexity and type of case arid any inherent risk. With effect from 1 April 2000 it has been possible to recover the premium from the losing party as an item of costs, subject to the normal rules of court. Where the court is called on to assess those costs the court will allow only such costs as are reasonable and proportionate.

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