Release Date: Apr 28, 2009Contact: 888-249-NEWS
Outsourcing Justice is Unconstitutional, Chamber Argues to California Supreme Court
Laws should not be enforced by private attorneys paid on a contingent basis
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The National Chamber Litigation Center (NCLC) yesterday filed an amicus brief on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce condemning contingency fee litigation arrangements between local governments and private lawyers. The case is County of Santa Clara, et al. v. Atlantic Richfield Co., et al.
"Outsourcing justice to private litigators raises red flags about whether the laws are being enforced in a fair and neutral manner," said Robin Conrad, executive vice president of the National Chamber Litigation Center, the Chamber's public policy law firm. "Courts have good reason to be skeptical of agreements handing government authority to enforce the law over to third parties."
In February 2000 the County of Santa Clara entered into a contingent fee agreement with a trial law firm to proceed with a class action lawsuit against various paint manufacturers. In its amicus brief, the Chamber argued that it is unethical and unconstitutional for local governments to contract out their public enforcement obligations to private law firms in exchange for a cut of the 'profits' from the litigation. The Chamber also highlighted the emerging consensus among courts to consider the issue that these arrangements are bad public policy.
"Other courts considering the issue have recognized that contingent fee arrangements damage public confidence in government," said Conrad. "They create the appearance that justice is only served once a private law firm has pocketed its commission."
NCLC is the public policy law firm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that advocates fair treatment of business in the courts and before regulatory agencies.
The U.S. Chamber is the world's largest business federation representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.
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