No win, no fee agreements have had a corrupting effect on the legal profession and should be abolished, according to a book to be published by the civil society thinktank Civitas.  

In Democratic Civilisation or Judicial Supremacy?, David Green, director of Civitas, says conditional fee agreements and contingency fees, together with human rights legislation, have harmed the legal profession.

‘Together, they have had a corrupting effect on the legal profession and have promoted the politicisation of the judiciary,’ he Green said. ‘For most of our history conditional fees were illegal under common law and the strongest opponents were the lawyers themselves. Now that we have had CFAs for some years we can see that the fears of earlier generations were understandable.’

CFAs were made legal by the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 and implemented from 1995. ‘It is now widely accepted that these relaxations of the law have permitted a vast increase in lawyer-driven litigation,’ Green said. 

He described the argument that CFAs increase access to justice as a 'smokescreen’ to obscure 'what has proved to be a very effective device for opening up vast new opportunities for money-making by exploiting private disputes’.

As a result, ‘the legal profession has become less a vocation guided by a code of ethics and more a business which looks upon particular statutes as opportunities for financial gain. The time has come for lawyers with a sense of vocation to reassert themselves.’