The president of the Professional Negligence Lawyers Association has rubbished claims that government proposals on costs protection in defamation and privacy could encourage vexatious libel claims.

Writing for the Gazette today, Katy Manley argues that the opposite is true.

So ill-defined are the financial categories for eligibility, she argues, that the plans will fail to fulfil the government’s aim of enabling ‘the small man to take on the big defendant’. She predicts a flurry of satellite litigation, court backlogs and data protection difficulties, among other problems.

‘Any QOCS [qualified one-way costs shifting] test should be about relative wealth between the parties – for example QOCS should apply unless the claimant’s wealth is more than 25% of the defendant’s,’ argues Manley.

‘[There is] no risk of opening of the floodgates based on the MoJ’s newly proposed financial limits.

‘As a measure to protect access to justice for ordinary people, QOCS on the MoJ proposal may well have little practical effect as well as being hugely costly to the public purse.’

Earlier this week media firm Wiggins published the results of a survey which it claimed showed the government’s proposals could lead to a potential increase in unmeritorious and even vexatious claims.

Partner Caroline Kean said the impact on small publishers in particular ‘could be devastating’.