From Ms Jillian Timmis.

Sir, Michael Kirwan asks if the fee to join Lloyds Action Now, campaigning for the 800,000 private shareholders who lost out in the Lloyds TSB/HBOS merger, is justified (“ Collective action pays after long haul”, Money FT, November 6). His premise seems to be there should be some free way of obtaining civil justice in a case like this. We agree, but there isn’t, despite looking very hard to find one.

The model of conditional fee arrangements in such a large and complex case carries too much upfront cost for any law firm to carry. We still hope to arrange some element of conditional fee but must be prepared to continue without it. The fact is that unless you are very rich or very many, access to civil justice remains out of reach for many hundreds of thousands of people since the end of civil legal aid.

Becoming “very many”, which we must because none of us is rich – indeed, since the merger we are collectively £2bn poorer – requires mail-outs, barristers’ opinions, solicitors, conference venues, newsletters, a website, PR and management of a case potentially involving thousands of claimants.

Our fee is based on a reasonable expectation of the final membership of Lloyds Action Now so that we can get compensation for our members without a further call on them. It may raise more than we need, in which case funds will be returned pro rata. It may raise too little, in which case we will continue with outside funding.

All is laid out in the rules of the association, themselves approved by counsel, which shareholders are required to read before joining and are available on our website

Jillian Timmis,

Acting Chairman,

Lloyds Action Now

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