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Division Details - Lords House of Lords

20:02, 13 September 2017, Division 1: Civil Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2017

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Motion to Regret

Pre Vote

My Lords, I am very grateful to everyone who has spoken, particularly of course to those many noble Lords who have spoken in favour of my regret Motion. I will be very brief in closing, but will address the point made just now by the Minister and by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood. They both mentioned—indeed the Minister relied upon—the High Court challenge to the legality of these regulations. This Motion is a parliamentary Motion and entirely independent of the High Court proceedings. If the High Court challenge succeeds, that will be the end of the matter and the rules will be quashed. The question in that case is whether the then Lord Chancellor could lawfully make the new rules; the question for this House is whether she should have made the rules or whether they offend against the principles which I mentioned at the outset.

The central point in this regret Motion is that the new rules reduce costs protection, for precisely the reason set out by the noble Lord, Lord Pannick. Costs protection comes from having the confidence that when you go into a case and have a costs protection order, you will be limited in your liability to £5,000 for individuals or £10,000 for organisations. It is the claimant’s costs protection that is important in these cases. I invite noble Lords to remember that very often this is public interest litigation, where concerned individuals and concerned organisations—not all large, some of them small, often charities—go into litigation not for a personal interest but because they want to secure the public interest. Why would they go into that litigation with the risk that they are going to have their exposure radically increased during the case? I do not accept the Minister’s interpretation of the arguments that were put in the current challenge on the circumstances in which a limitation can be removed—that is not in the rules and we have not had the judgment.

This is the kind of litigation that we are concerned with. Costs protection is a very important part of it and was the Government’s response in 2013 to the Aarhus convention. This is what is necessary to comply with it, in terms of the politics of this House making sure that costs are not prohibitively expensive. I have heard nothing that persuades me to withdraw my regret Motion and I wish to test the opinion of the House.

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