Transforming our justice system: fixed costs to expand and civil litigation heading online

Welcome back to the blog and good bye – temporarily – to MPs as the first set of post-Brexit party conferences kicks off. The last day before a recess often sees notable Departmental activity and yesterday the Ministry of Justice published both a statement and a consultation entitled ‘Transforming our justice system’. This is an important development because the paper reinforces the Government’s commitments to:

  • moving civil disputes online (building from the Briggs review)
  • introducing more widespread ADR techniques
  • using case officers (not judges) to triage claims, and
  • extending fixed recoverable costs beyond the limited field of lower value personal injury claims.

The MoJ paper says very directly that the Government is “keen to extend the fixed recoverable costs regime to as many civil cases as possible” and that the senior judiciary will work up options for consultation.

What the paper does not do is ask specific questions about the detail of any of these measures. Those will surely follow relatively quickly given that the five week consultation period here, which ends on 27 October, is unusually brief.

I would expect costs proposals would be sponsored by the Civil Justice Council and they could possibly emerge before the year end. Engagement about the structure and procedures for the online civil court is likely to take a little longer, but the MoJ’s material should be taken as strong confirmation that this project will be taken forward in the medium term.

Even if there are no questions on civil justice issues to respond to just yet, the consultation paper and joint statement are essential reading and serve as a clear outline of measures that should follow later in 2016/17.


About the Author

akAlistair Kinley is BLM’s Director of Policy & Government Affairs.

Alistair is responsible for BLM’s engagement with government departments and regulators on policy and public affairs issues and consultations affecting the firm and its customers. He coordinated BLM’s market-facing activities in connection with the Insurance Act 2015 and the consultations which preceded its publication and introduction in Parliament.

He is a member of the Civil Justice Council (CJC), a regular speaker and experienced commentator on legal and procedural reforms and was a contributing editor to the Law Society’s Litigation Funding Handbook (September 2014).

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