The hot topic of fixed costs has developed recently with HM judiciary announcing that LJ Jackson is to lead a new review of fixed recoverable costs.
LJ Jackson has invited submissions and will approach the review with an ‘open mind’. The deadline for written submissions is 23 January 2017. The review is to be completed by 31 July 2017. Any submissions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
LJ Jackson said at a recent event:
“I hope and believe introducing a regime of fixed costs for a raft of cases above the fast-track will promote access to justice and will be of benefit to the wider community – a view I have always expressed. But I shall approach all of your submissions and observations with an open mind”.
14 people (including 2 economists) will assist LJ Jackson with his review. They include Senior Costs Judge Andrew Gordon-Saker, Nicholas Bacon QC and Master Fontaine.
Budgets can only be revised if there has been a significant development in the litigation
In the case of Warner v The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (Manchester County Court 23/09/16) the court found that “significant developments in the litigation seems to me to require that the case has gone off in a different direction in some manner or other, that it has taken a turn that was not reasonably foreseeable or envisaged at the time of the original exercise. The fact that the expert evidence tells us something that we had not totally anticipated is not itself I think sufficient to pass that ‘significant development’ test”.
The Judge considered the guidance in Churchill v Boot(22/04/16) where the court found that there had not been any significant developments. Although the value of the claim had increased significantly, the court concluded that this would not mean higher costs. Furthermore, the court found that the additional disclosure should have been foreseeable when the costs budget was set. The revisions were not allowed.
In both cases the court refused to allow the budget to be revised. Obtaining a revision to a budget is a challenging task, therefore preparing a well-crafted budget is essential.
Increase in small claims limit
On 17 November 2016, the Ministry of Justice announced their intention to continue reforming the compensation culture in England and Wales, with proposals that include increasing the small claims limit for all personal injury claims from £1,000 to £5,000.
If such reforms were to be implemented, the involvement of legal expertise would be redundant, and legal costs would be slashed. Whilst at this stage the main focus is on RTA claims and minor whiplash injuries, it is noted that ministers are consulting on whether or not to extend the scope to all personal injury matters.
Concerns have been expressed, including from the Law Society, that such a move would congest the courts with litigants in person, and that the right of ordinary people to receive full and proper compensation would be compromised.
It therefore seems that, for now, the reforms continue to be in full swing
In other news
A selection of useful updates:
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