The Bar Council is the latest representative body to announce its opposition to proposals to increase the limit for fixed recoverable costs in civil claims - warning of the impact on solicitors as well as its own members.
In a submission today to the review of fixed recoverable costs, the council said it was ‘deeply concerned’ that fixed costs at ‘unreasonable levels of remuneration’ would see solicitors and barristers not able to undertake work and would hinder access to justice.
The council added that, even though it does not speak for solicitors, they ‘are the life and blood of a thriving bar’.
‘An extension of the fixed costs regime both horizontally and vertically is likely to place solicitors under increasing commercial/financial pressure, with the result that many will exit the market in low value claims,’ it said.
The council joins the Law Society and the Commercial Litigation Association in opposing the plans. Those organisations submitted their responses earlier this week.
Lord Justice Jackson is in the process of gathering evidence for his review into a potential extension of costs for all civil claims worth up to £250,000.
Current fixed costs apply only to personal injury claims valued up to £25,000.
While the Bar Council said it ‘accepts that the time has come to extend the fixed costs in the Fast Track beyond the current cohort of personal injury cases,’ any extension must be evidence based. ‘It is crucial that the fixed costs arrived at are sufficiently remunerative to avoid an adverse impact on access to justice,’ it said.
‘The fundamental premise that fixed costs will reduce what lawyers charge to their clients is far from proven or established evidentially or at all,’ the council added.
In an interview with the Gazette earlier this month, Andrew Langdon (pictured), chairman of the bar, spoke of his concerns about the proposals.