Willem H. van Boom*
(2010) Oxford U Comparative L Forum 1 at ouclf.iuscomp.org | How to cite this article
One of the ways in which legal services are financed, and indeed shaped, is through private insurance arrangements. Two contrasting types of legal expenses insurance contracts (LEI) seem to dominate in Europe: before the event (BTE) and after the event (ATE) legal expenses insurance. Notwithstanding institutional differences between different legal systems, BTE and ATE insurance arrangements may be instrumental if government policy is geared towards strengthening a market-oriented system of financing access to justice for individuals and business. At the same time, emphasizing the role of a private industry as a keeper of the gates to justice raises issues of accountability and transparency, not readily reconcilable with demands for competitive markets. Moreover, multiple actors (clients, lawyers, courts, insurers) are involved, causing behavioural dynamics which are not easily predicted or influenced.
Against this background, this article looks into BTE and ATE arrangements by analysing the particularities of BTE and ATE arrangements currently available in some European jurisdictions against the backdrop of their respective markets and legal contexts. This allows for some reflection on the performance of BTE and ATE providers as both financiers and keepers of the gates to justice. Two issues emerge from the analysis that are worthy of some further reflection. Firstly, the long-term sustainability of some ATE products appears problematic. Secondly, policymakers that would like to nudge consumers into voluntarily taking out BTE LEI are facing certain challenges.
JEL classification: G22, K12, K41
Keywords: legal expenses insurance, conditional fee arrangement, after the event insurance
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(2010) Oxford U Comparative L Forum 2 at ouclf.iuscomp.org | How to cite this article
The pre-eminent position of the Attorney-General under the common law as the chief law officer of the State, generally as chief legal adviser to the State and specifically in all court proceedings to which the State is a party, is a common feature of the Constitutions of the Commonwealth countries. In many jurisdictions, including Nigeria, the Constitution confers the officer with similar powers to the common law prerogative to exercise ultimate control over prosecutions. However, despite this statutory basis the courts traditionally bestow the powers with the orthodox common law immunity from judicial review of the prerogative powers. This article challenges both the applicability of this orthodoxy to such jurisdictions and its continued validity under the common law. The first part deals with English law. It examines the origin and development of the orthodoxy in English law and argues that it should no longer apply to prerogative prosecutorial powers in view of the House of Lord’s decision in Council of Civil Service Unions v Minister for the Civil Service  AC 374 that prerogative powers that raise justiciable issues are amenable to judicial review. It further argues that the orthodoxy should not apply to statutory prosecutorial powers including the power to stop prosecutions in order to safeguard national security set out in the new Protocol between the Attorney-General and the Prosecuting Departments. The second part analyses the relevant provisions of successive Nigerian Constitutions to show that the orthodoxy has never been imported into post-Independence Nigerian law. It uses judicial interpretation of similar provisions in the Constitutions of other Commonwealth countries to establish the error in the Supreme Court’s decision in The State v Ilori  1 SCNLR 94 by which the orthodoxy was transplanted into Nigerian law. The third part applies the established grounds for judicial review to the exercise of the respective Attorney-General’s prosecutorial powers to give effect to the rule of law in both jurisdictions. The article concludes that judicial review will restore the right to private prosecution as a necessary safeguard against executive excesses and incompetence in both jurisdictions. Although the article deals specifically with English and Nigerian laws, the principles it sets out are applicable to other Commonwealth jurisdictions where the Attorneys-General or other officers such as the Directors of Public Prosecutions enjoy similar powers.
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