April 2018 – a new coherent package for costs?

Sir Rupert Jackson’s pithy foreword to his 2009 review of costs described his reforms as “a coherent package” designed to control litigation costs in civil claims. Most aspects of that package were implemented in April 2013.

As noted already on this blog, Jackson is now conducting a further enquiry into widening the scope of fixed recoverable legal costs and is seeking evidence and views by mid January 2017. ‎His deadline more or less coincides with that set out in the Government’s latest ‘whiplash’ reforms – making for a busy Christmas and New Year for those of us working in this field.

Looking forward, the Government recognises that implementing its recently-announced whiplash proposals will need a blend of primary legislation and secondary rules and regulations. ‎Further, the Ministry of Justice proposes taking the reforms “together as a package”, which means that the timetable would be driven by the slowest element, that being the primary legislation. With no draft legislative clauses expected until Q1 next year and with perhaps a year needed to pilot a bill through Parliament, a plausible conclusion is that the whiplash package could bite from, say, H1 2018.

Jackson’s latest review is scheduled to report by the end of July 2017. I‎ts recommendations might equally need a blend of legislation and secondary measures ‎to make them  happen. So here again the prospect of change biting in H1 2018.

It may also be relevant that a post-implementation review of the 2013 Jackson reforms remains on the MoJ’s agenda. The previous Justice Minister Lord Faulks QC gave a clear commitment that this activity  would happen towards the end of a 2016-2018 window and this also, therefore, would look set to land in H1 2018.

What if these strands of activity are drawn together by central Government, as a package? What will be the precise effects by 2018 and will we see yet more significant changes to the costs and behaviours associated with civil claims in England & Wales? Taking part in these consultations and reviews will be key to adapting successfully to what really does look like a new package of reforms in front of us.

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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