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Archive for May, 2010

Judicial steering group to implement Lord Justice Jackson’s proposals re costs

Lord Justice Jackson’s Review of Civil Litigation Costs, dated 21 December 2009, reports civil litigation costs can be disproportionate and impede access to justice.  His Lordship proposed reforms designed to control costs and promote access to justice.  The senior judiciary considered its response and in March 2010 agreed to support the Report’s recommendations.  A judicial steering group, to include the Master of the Rolls, will now lead implementation of the Review.  It will require Government support to legislate on some key reforms.

One major recommendation is that conditional fee arrangements (most commonly “no win, no fee” arrangements) and “after-the-event” insurance premiums should no longer be recoverable from unsuccessful opponents in civil litigation.  Clients may still enter in to such arrangements with their lawyers but any success fee will be borne by the client.  Lawyers will, too, be enabled to enter into contingency fee arrangements but protective provisos will safeguard the interest of clients.

In relation to the civil procedure rules, LJ Jackson expressed the view that whilst protocols “perform a useful function, by encouraging the early settlement of disputes” he thought the general pre-action conduct practice directions, introduced in 2009, should be repealed as it can lead to pre-action costs being incurred unnecessarily.  It was, however, alternative dispute resolution that attracted Lord Jackson’s attention.  It “has a vital role to play in reducing the costs of civil disputes” and he felt there should be a serious campaign to ensure that all litigation lawyers and judges are properly informed on how it works and the benefits it can bring.

Interestingly, contrary to Lord Woolf’s findings prior to introducing his civil procedure rules, Lord Jackson thinks there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the manner civil evidence is adduced by witness statements and expert reports.  However, some are unduly long thus unnecessarily increasing costs.  His recommendations will enhance the courts’ role in case management thereby, with cost sanctions, controlling the content and length of statements.

If you wish to hear more, contact Hatherleigh Training.