The Sunday Telegraph

Postmaster­s face fresh setback over Horizon

- By Luke Barr

THE Justice Secretary is under pressure to scrap reforms to the litigation funding industry, amid fears that the changes will inadverten­tly end sub-postmaster­s’ Horizon compensati­on hopes.

Lawyers are preparing to send a legal opinion to Alex Chalk that warns sub-postmaster­s’ hopes of clawing back more compensati­on from litigation funders will be “extinguish­ed” by proposed rules changes.

Mr Chalk is pursuing an obscure reform to protect the litigation funding industry that will allow funds that bankroll successful lawsuits to claim a greater share of winnings.

The Supreme Court had effectivel­y imposed a cap on how much profit firms could make in a surprise ruling handed down last year.

The judgment raised the possibilit­y that the 555 wrongly convicted subpostmas­ters who won a legal victory against the Post Office in 2019 could claw back more money from the financial backers of the case.

Lawyers and funders involved received £46m of the £58m awarded by the Post Office, meaning that each sub-postmaster received just £20,000.

In a legal opinion, Lord Macdonald KC said the Supreme Court ruling “may allow the 555 to revisit” the funding arrangemen­t.

However, the Government has sought to protect the litigation funding industry amid fears that the Supreme Court ruling will discourage companies from bankrollin­g David v Goliath-style legal disputes and make it harder for the public to launch “complex claims against moneyed corporatio­ns”.

In a letter that will be sent to Mr Chalk this week, Lord Macdonald KC warned that the rule change, which will be debated in the House of Lords tomorrow, “removes the right” for sub-postmaster­s to revisit the litigation funding arrangemen­t.

This would rule out the possibilit­y of asking funder Therium for more compensati­on.

Lord Macdonald said that although he had no view on the “merits” of the sub-postmaster­s’ claim, “any substantiv­e rights those in their position could have would be extinguish­ed by the Bill.”

It is not clear who commission­ed the legal opinion.

Therium and the Ministry of Justice were contacted for comment.

‘The Supreme Court ruling may allow the 555 to revisit funding’

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