LEGAL TRANSPARENCY BILL PASSED BY LEGISLATURE

20-May-2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MONTGOMERY—A legal transparency bill that is a top priority for the Business Council of Alabama in the 2013 legislative session has been approved by the legislature and now goes to Governor Robert Bentley’s desk for his consideration.

HB 227 by Rep. Paul DeMarco, R-Homewood, is landmark legislation known as the Transparency in Private Attorney Contracting (TIPAC) that will provide a commonsense approach when it comes to the state contracting with outside counsel to handle litigation on its behalf.  The TIPAC bill will provide greater accountability by requiring a contracting agency to prove that any contingency fee contract is cost-effective and in the public’s best interest.  Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, sponsored the legislation in the Senate.

“The BCA remains committed to the continued advancement of legal reform in Alabama. Over the years, we have worked closely with the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform on this type of model legislation to ensure accountability and full disclosure,” said BCA President and CEO William J. Canary. 

 "Alabama will join a vanguard of states like Arizona, Florida, Indiana, and Mississippi who have led the effort to open the relationships between state attorneys general and private lawyers hired to work with them to public scrutiny.  Attorney General Strange is to be commended for his leadership,” said Harold Kim, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. 

State attorneys general are becoming increasingly more involved in consumer protection cases and are often times relying on outside counsel to handle litigation on behalf of a state.  Currently, these outside firms receive a contingency fee based on the percentage of whatever amount is awarded on behalf of the consumer.  This often results in excessive fees and can cause the appearance of impropriety, which undermines our legal system.

Additionally, to ensure that the private plaintiff's firm is acting in the best interests of the state, and not in the interest of its own profit, the legislation requires government attorneys to maintain control of the case and any settlement decisions.  Transparency is achieved through the requirement that a copy of the executed fee contract be posted online. 

“We applaud the House and Senate legislative leadership and our attorney general who collectively made this legislation a priority and helped ensure its passage,” Canary concluded.

The Business Council of Alabama is Alabama’s foremost voice for business. The BCA is a non-partisan statewide business association representing the interests and concerns of nearly one million working Alabamians through its member companies and its partnership with the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama.  BCA is Alabama’s exclusive affiliate to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.

Contact: Nathan Lindsay (334) 834-6000

 

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