Justice ministry backs Jackson on fixed fees

Topics: Civil justice,Government & politics

  • Print
  • Share
  • Comments (28)
  • Save

Related images

  • Ministry of Justice – Goldberg

The government is set to look ‘carefully’ at proposals from Lord Justice Jackson for fixed fees in all civil cases valued at up to £250,000, the Gazette has learned.

Jackson, whose report formed the basis for far-reaching costs reforms in 2013, said last month the time has come to set recoverable costs in all types of civil claim. The judge has urged ministers to make reform an immediate priority, with a view to setting fixed recoverable costs by the end of this year.


On the same day as Jackson’s speech, justice minister Lord Faulks responded to a written question in parliament, noting that the Ministry of Justice is already considering areas in which fixed costs might be ‘appropriate and workable’.

An MoJ spokeswoman added: ‘This government remains supportive of the principle of extending fixed recoverable costs and will consider Lord Justice Jackson’s comment carefully.’

The Gazette understands the department is giving its full backing to the Department of Health on fixed costs for clinical negligence claims. A consultation on the subject is imminent.

Jackson’s recommendations go beyond just one type of claim. Indeed, he urged ministers to pause any proposals for clinical negligence cases to prevent a ‘Balkanisation’ of different rates for different cases.

Jackson said practitioners’ experience of fixed fees in low-value claims up to £25,000 – as well as in the IP Enterprise Court – has been ‘satisfactory’.

He even went as far as to suggest a grid of rates, minus disbursements and VAT, for each value of claim: £18,750 for claims up to £50,000; £30,000 for claims up to £100,000; £47,500 for claims up to £175,000; and £70,250 for claims up to £250,000.

The judge said applying fixed costs to claims valued over £250,000 ‘would be too great a change for the profession’, although he suggested a universal costs regime could be implemented in the future.

The proposals have been condemned across the profession as unworkable and harmful to access to justice. Law Society president Jonathan Smithers said Chancery Lane is ‘extremely concerned’ by the blanket nature of Jackson’s plans, suggesting the application of fixed costs for highly complex cases was ‘totally inappropriate’.

Bar Council chair Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC said a cap on costs could make cases ‘unviable’ to pursue with experienced lawyers.

Readers' comments (28)

  • "Practitioners experience of fixed fees.....has been satisfactory " - really, my experience is they were forced on us and I and my clients have to put up with them. I also notice, as happened with the predictable costs when they were introduced in 2003, have not been increased since their imposition!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I have lost count of the number of anti-solicitor measures this government, bloated QUANGOS and hostile judges, have announced or threatened over the last 12 months.

    Justice being dispensed over the Internet with evidence barely tested or challenged is no justice at all.

    Add to this toxic mix a rigid framework of fixed costs regardless of complexity, and the destruction of the U.K. Legal system as a model of justice admired internationally would be complete.

    This is all on top of the sale off of the Land Registry.

    Lawyers have much to learn from others when it comes to fighting their corner.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Jackson says jump...

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • How about "Lawyers back fixed fees for parliament".

    So, lets say 650 MP get £74K per year = £48,100.000 (this is the fixed fee) and no more expenses. We are in this together...right!

    Anyway - I think, as with the NHS that the government should be active 24hours a day, 7 days a week 365 days of the year as they are running a country after all!! Therefore, we need more politicians. Lets say, boost the number to 1500 (1500 / £48,100.00 = £32,000 per year). We would get a better service for the same cost to the public.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Politics is show business for ugly people anyway.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I have an idea.

    For too long judicial salaries have been out of touch with the modern realities of litigation. I propose that we abolish the salary of Lord Justices of Appeal, and instead remunerate them by reference to my handy, and in no way at all arbitrary table below.

    Value of dispute/length of sentence Fee

    £0-£500,000 / 0-4 years £400 per day sitting fee
    £500-£1m / 4-8 years £500 per day sitting fee
    £1m+ / 8 years + £650 per day sitting fee + biscuits

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Perhaps part of the reason that the costs of litigation are so high is that the Wolfe Reforms of 1998 have completely failed; worse that that they have led to procedure becoming more complex.
    The rues are constantly tinkered with, except in the area of costs, where they are wholly rewritten with monotonous regularity, and have become greatly more complex than they were before the changes were introduced.
    The whole cost budgeting idea simply adds to costs.
    No one can have seriously though that spending time filling out the form, reading in detail the opponents form, and then attending a CMC to spend a couple of hours in front of a judge arguing the minutiae of one another's costs budgets was going to do anything other than increase the overall spend.
    As John Bower notes, costs once fixed, fail to increase, even though the court fees increase at a speed faster than inflation, and are now a substantial disincentive to claimants to issue.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • And again our professional bodies do what?.... They get extremely concerned. Your solicitors are going to need a bit more fight and graft than this. Your solicitors have already donated their extreme concern.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Again well said John Bower. I was not consulted by LJ Jackson, nor were any of my professional colleagues as far as I am aware. Does anyone know who he did consult with?

    Such a statement that practitioners experience of fixed fees has been "satisfactory" sounds like the sort of broad brush unsubstantiated remark that a politician might make. Who asked LJJ to prepare this report? Was he paid to do it?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Sir Rupert referred last week to the £250k limit as low value multi-track.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10per page20per page50per page

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

  • Print
  • Share
  • Comments (28)
  • Save

Attorney general quizzed on unduly lenient sentences

28 October 2016By

Stalking could be covered in any extension of review scheme.

lord lang

Lords call for recognition of ‘growing body of distinct Welsh law’

28 October 2016By

Constitution committee says further legislation needed to clarify new reserved powers settlement. 


MoJ opts into EU family law proposal over Brexit risk

28 October 2016By

Justice minister Sir Oliver Heald says it is in the UK’s interests to influence negotiations.

Browse over 4,300 law jobs Get jobs by email


Sign up for email news alerts

Daily Update. Keep abreast of the latest developments that affect the profession

Legal Services

Browse the magazine

Current Issue

The Gazette offers you up-to-the-minute national and international news, opinion, features, in-depth articles plus a jobs and appointments section.

Please click the link below for a digital edition