Fixed recoverable costs (FRC): introduction of extended scope now scheduled for April 2023

A key Ministry of Justice policy is to extend the scope of FRC in civil litigation to (i) all fast track civil claims and to (ii) claims valued at under £100,000. Work on implementation of this policy was delayed by the pandemic but now looks to be resuming, with the stated aim being to implement these changes from April 2023.

This new proposed date emerged today in consultation materials issue by the Civil Procedure Rule Committee on behalf of the MoJ. The two areas open to consultation concern:

  • dealing with vulnerability of parties & witnesses in claims subject to FRC, and
  • a technical clarification around QOCS (Qualified One-way Costs Shifting).

The two brief consultation documents and a covering explanatory note have been posted today on the ‘about us’ section of the CPRC site.

The consultations close on 20 June 2022 – please get in touch if you might like to discuss either of them or the overall progress towards the long-standing* goal of extending fixed recoverable costs in civil litigation in England & Wales.

[* This has been a serious part of the broad debate on costs policy since the first Jackson report was published at the end of 2009.]

Fixed recoverable costs (FRC) in England & Wales set to be extended from October 2022

The recently-published minutes of the Civil Procedure Rule Committee’s November meeting confirm that the Ministry of Justice’s “intention is to implement the extension of FRC in October 2022 and the MoJ is keen to work in collaboration with the CPRC to ensure the smooth delivery of these reforms.”

The minutes also include some jargon to describe the aims of what the MoJ & CPRC will need to do here, that being to “define the scope and parameters of FRC (and the associated changes), while outlining the new procedures that will ensure cases are appropriately allocated and managed within the new FRC architecture.” What that probably means is that there is could be a wholesale re-write of the existing FRC rules – which must be the correct and necessary approach – and some possibly some changes to rules on disbursements and on QOCS in the new extended FRC regime.

Please refer back to our feature from early in September for a summary of what will be entailed in extending FRCs as planned by the Ministry.

Alistair Kinley, Director of Policy & Government Affairs

Disease claims to become subject to fixed recoverable costs – summary and initial view

Earlier in the week the Ministry of Justice re-affirmed its intention to extend fixed recoverable costs (FRC) to all fast track civil clams claims and, albeit on a different basis, higher value claims below a proposed £100,000 threshold (so-called ‘intermediate value’ cases). Alongside costs budgeting in multitrack cases, a regime of fixed recoverable costs is seen bringing control and predictability to litigation expenses.

Extending FRCs in this way will mean that the majority of disease claims will be captured by FRCs for the first time. When fast track FRCs were introduced in 2013 for ‘portal’ claims, only EL disease (ELD) claims against a single defendant were caught. [It is worth recalling that the portal was conceived for straightforward single claimant vs single defendant claims and for that reason alone it is ill-suited to disease work.]

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