A couple of months on from the Jackson start date, and life may not feel that different for litigators – just yet. But have you had your first post-Jackson case management conference?
Speaking at the Law Society’s Civil Justice Section’s conference last week, Paul Shenton of Just Costs warned solicitors that, in the new regime, the first conference where the budget is considered is going to be a key battleground for parties, and will take on a much more ‘combative’ feel. The information that parties must now provide under the new costs budgeting rules is ‘manna from heaven’ for defendant insurers, he said.
At last, they can see precisely what this case is going to cost them if they lose, and just what the claimant’s lawyers are charging for - and at what rates.
So claimant lawyers should expect to be challenged on each and every detail. Where work is down in the budget at £400 an hour, for example, defendants will be arguing that it should be at the guideline rate – and that issue alone might be worth a third of the entire budget. If the defendant succeeds in convincing a judge that the lower, guideline rate is applicable, how will litigators persuade their clients that they should pay more?
It will not be enough to prepare a good budget; litigators will also need some robust arguments ready to justify it.
It would be great to hear from any litigators have already had their first case management conferences under Jackson, to find out what their experiences have been so far in relation to budgeting and other changes.
You may comment with your experiences below – please include your name and firm if you’d be happy for me to follow up on your comment for Litigation Funding magazine.
Rachel Rothwell is editor of Litigation Funding magazine, providing in-depth coverage on costs and the financing of litigation.
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