Disappointment at costs council decision
Costs lawyers have expressed disappointment at the government’s decision not to create a costs council as recommended in Lord Justice Jackson’s civil justice reforms.
On Monday this week, the Ministry of Justice announced in a written statement that the work of the disbanded Advisory Committee on Civil Costs would be transferred to a sub-committee of the Civil Costs Council rather than to a new body.
Jackson had recommended the creation of an independent body to set the guideline hourly rates (GHR) every year, review fixed-cost levels, and keep a watching brief on other issues, such as recoverable counsel’s fees and the cost of medical reports. Ministers are understood to have resisted the idea because of pressure to cut the number of non-departmental public bodies.
Iain Stark, chairman of the Association of Costs Lawyers, described the decision as ‘disappointing’.
The costs council was ‘a worthy reform that would have provided certainty for the profession in the future and placed decisions in the hands of those at the coal face. It would also have ensured that fixed costs, which tend to stay untouched over many years, change to reflect rises in inflation’.
He urged the MoJ to allow his association to be represented on the sub-committee.