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Reform chief predicts 'sweaty palms' over costs budgets
Judges and lawyers will adapt to new costs management rules but the process may take some time, according to the senior judge charged with implementing the Jackson reforms.
Lord Justice Ramsey, who has taken over responsibility for the task from Lord Justice Jackson, admitted there will be 'a few sweaty palms' when lawyers are forced to present their budget for cases before the court.
From April 2013, firms will have to prepare a detailed budget setting out the entire costs of proceedings in time for the case management conference. Any departure from that budget will have to be approved by the court.
Speaking on Tuesday at a meeting of the London Solicitors Litigation Association, the High Court judge (pictured) said budgeting was a routine part of domestic life and will become accepted in litigation.
'It's a discipline that will grow with experience from other cases which show where the costs were spent and what assumptions are right to make,' he said.
Ramsey added that his experience of the costs pilot was that lawyers quickly got used to the new HB forms for costs management and estimates were more realistic as a result.
The courts have already indicated through the judgment in Henry v Mirror Group Newspapers last year that they are unlikely to allow recovery of costs that were not budgeted for.
Ramsey said that judges, who started a series of one-day training seminars this month, will also need time to adjust to the new regime and called for litigators to help them with the transition.
'It's a new discipline for the judiciary - clearly one will rely on co-operation between solicitors. I would suggest that as experience grows one will set reasonable budgets without any difficulty.'
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