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).

Summers v Bundy: Court of Appeal confirms that ending recoverable success fees means that ten percent more general damages is obligatory

Back in 2009, the Jackson report recommended the ending of recoverable success fee uplifts and, in their place, that the claimant should recover ten percent more by way of general damages. Six years on, it is rather ‘old hat’ to point that these changes were implemented together, applying from 1 April 2013, by the LASPO Act 2012 and by the Court of Appeal’s second decision in Simmons v Castle in October 2012. Continue reading

Fixed costs by the end of the year?

Lord Justice Jackson yesterday evening delivered an important speech calling – again – for the introduction of a regime of fixed recoverable legal costs throughout fast track claims (ie up to a value of £25,000) and also in what is referred to as “the lower reaches of the multitrack”. He also offered a matrix of figures based on the value of the claim.

He recommended as much in his December 2010 Final Report (FR) and in September 2014 he addressed the Costs Law and Practice Conference saying that “Five years have now elapsed since the publication of the FR The recommendations for fixing costs in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court and the fast track (except for non-personal injury cases) have all been implemented. The time has now come to take stock and to develop a scheme for fixed costs in the lower reaches of the multi-track.” Continue reading