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“No win no-fee” compensation claims for roads draining taxpayers’ money

The call comes from the Local Government Association (LGA), which says that due to such claims, taxpayers' money is being drained from schools and important local services and adds that many of them arise from lawyers talking people into making a claim with the offer of free legal fees.

Last year saw the cost of compensation claims related to the condition of roads last year rise to £31.6m taking into account staff time for processing them. This amount of money is equivalent to the cost of filling more than 600,000 potholes.

This comes at a time when councils are tackling budget cuts while trying to fix a £12bn backlog in road repairs which has arisen as a result of decades of underfunding from successive governments.

Cllr Peter Fleming, chairman of the LGA's Improvement Board, said: ‘It is absolutely right that compensation is made available to people with genuine cases. But councils have feared for a long time that some lawyers are clogging up the system with spurious claims from people just chancing their arm.

‘The vast majority of lawyers do a commendable job. However, there is a small but significant minority of opportunistic lawyers leeching away money which would be much better spent improving our schools and fixing our roads. Some of the claims being made and fees being charged beggar belief.

‘Popular local services like leisure facilities, children's centres and pothole repairs are likely to bear the brunt of funding cuts over the next two years. At a time when councils are contending with the biggest cuts to local service budgets in living memory, the extra burden of spurious compensation claims poses a real threat to councils' ability to protect the services people value most.’

He added: ‘All too often the only real winners are the lawyers whose huge legal fees can dwarf the compensation payouts received by their clients.

‘Government has already gone some way towards reforming no-win no-fee claims, but we need a further and fuller overhaul of the system to stop opportunistic lawyers lining their pockets at the public's expense.’

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Written by Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.

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