Jolyon Maugham – Soapy Joe to those who know him well – has been trying to sue someone, somewhere, for some time now. He’s not willing to put up his own near half million a year of course, he relies upon crowdfunding and donations from interested parties to fund it all. That not being quite how English law does work, something which seems to have come as a surprise to this leading QC.
What does happen is that if you bring a case then great, all is well and good. If you lose it then you’ve got to pay the legal fees of the other side. That’s how Jolyon himself makes his own living. Winner gets his fees paid, loser pays both sides.
There is one exception, a protective costs order. This case is just so important that the loser wouldn’t have to pay the winner’s costs. The importance to Jolyon here being that as he’s the bloke bringing the case against Uber then it’ll be him on the hook for those costs if he loses. There’s a windmill being restored with your and my – taxpayers’ – money at stake here after all, can’t let that music room be sold off to fund Jolyon’s vanity now, can we.
Actually, as a matter of opinion and a most unkind one at that I think this is Jolyon’s bid for a gong. Bring some few public interest cases – without actually doing anything so gauche as risking his own money – and end up with a K, or perhaps a Baronage, from a grateful nation. Why else would someone be suing for a £1.06 VAT invoice?
But opinion aside, there’s a very good reason that the legal system works the way it does:
In a judgment handed down yesterday, the High Court rejected Jolyon Maugham QC’s attempt to limit his costs liability to just £20,000 through what is known as a protective costs order (PCO). It is understood that Uber’s costs could amount to an eyewatering £1 million at first instance, with the final bill only set to skyrocket if either party chooses to appeal the decision in the main case.
Look at what Jolyon’s actual claim is. That he, Jolyon, is a very important person with a very important case. Therefore he should be able to force £1 million of costs onto Uber just because. Uber has no ability, whatsoever, to not face those costs. They can be entirely right in law and morality but tough, they should lose £1 million – really, a million sodding quid – just because Jolyon wishes to joust for a title in my opinion. And no, justice doesn’t work that way, does it?
Think on it. If Uber is right. If they’re just innocents wandering along until some lawyer comes charging out of the undergrowth at them. They still lose a million spondoolies. Just Because Jolyon.
Nope, Jolyon should have to put up his taxpayer funded windmill if that’s what he wants to do. He’s got to have some skin in the game, right? For that’s how the system does work – those who sue must have skin in the game in order that only those with a good case to sue for do sue. To do otherwise is to descend into the American legal nightmare.