Six reasons why US-style litigation hasn’t taken root in the UK

A partner at UK-based Simmons & Simmons, Jonathan Kelly, compiled an enlightening list of differences on the litigation front between the United States and the UK (England and Wales). He notes particularly these six, Corp. Counsel, Vol. 13, April 2006 at A6:

1. No class actions (See my posts of Oct. 29, 2005 and Feb. 28, 2006 with some data on the prevalence of US class actions.)
2. No contingency fees as a share of damages recovered (See my post of April 27, 2006 about the vast sums re-allocated in the US by this system.)
3. The loser generally pays the winner’s legal costs (See my posts of May 31, 2005 on disadvantages of that system and Oct. 22, 2005 on Herb Kritzer’s comments.)
4. No jury trials – all commercial claims in the UK are dealt with by judges
5. No punitive damages
6. No plaintiffs’ bar along the lines of that which flourishes in the US (See my post of Aug. 24, 2005 on the war chests of tort firms in the US.).

At the risk of exposing my own ignorance, I wonder whether the distinct roles of barristers and solicitors in some way also dampens litigiousness on the scepter’d isle (See my post of Dec. 19, 2005 on how general counsel have to explain differences in legal systems to their international clients.).

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