By any measure the outcome of yesterday’s election was a significant point in the UK’s politics. The returning of the Conservative government with a chunky majority means, first and foremost, that the UK will leave the EU in a little over six weeks, on 31 January 2020. In advance of a new Queen’s Speech, likely to be next week, are there already indications of what policies to expect from the new administration in the area of civil justice?
Two decisions of the Court of Appeal in recent weeks have referred to approximately six million claims having been started in the low value RTA protocol since its introduction. That number is roughly equivalent to one in ten of the population of England & Wales. Both recent decisions – Aldred v Cham and Lai Ho v Adelekun – examine detailed points of the associated fixed costs regime and are said to affect significant numbers of cases.
The minutes of the Rule Committee’s February meeting show some progress on holiday sickness claims. The core idea to extend fixed recoverable costs to these cases has been on its agenda since late last year, following the Ministerial announcement last year.
Proposed changes to fixed costs (CPR Part 45) seek to apply PL costs to these cases. A relevant pre-action protocol (PAP) is still in draft form – very probably based on the general personal injury PAP – and being worked up between the Committee and the Civil Justice Council. Some CPR points also need clarification, for example the application of Part 36 offers and the overlap with small claims (Part 27).
The recently published February minutes strongly suggest that the intention is still to bring the changes into force this April. Minutes are not yet available from the 2 March meeting and the next meeting takes place on 13 April. Given that a statutory instrument – which has to follow a defined Parliamentary timetable – is required to change rules on procedure and costs, there is some possibility that the proposed introduction of fixed costs for holiday sickness claims in April 2018 could slip. We will report any further developments soon as we can.
Co-written by Alistair Kinley, BLM’s director of policy and government affairs, and partner Sarah Hill