Civil procedure rules are set to be changed to make cases relating to children exempt from costs management.
Minutes from last month’s Civil Procedure Rule Committee reveal plans to approve the first permanent departure from case management guidelines initiated by the Jackson reforms in 2013.
A sub-committee had reported to members that costs management was causing ‘significant delays’ in the pre-trial process and taking up hard-pressed judicial resources.
One of the reasons for the backlog is that every case is subject to costs management, regardless of its particular features.
The sub-committee report said: ‘Our unanimous view was that children cases could be removed from the regime, principally because of the time many such cases take to get to trial.
‘It takes years for injuries to stabilise before a proper prognosis can be given and a trial date fixed. Budgeting for five to 10 years is not sensible.’
The sub-committee, consisting of Peter Coulson, Richard Roberts, Chris Lethem, Nick Bacon, Ed Pepperall QC, Amanda Stephens and Andrew Underwood, will now be expected to prepare amendments to CPRs ready for consideration at the committee’s October meeting.
But members were not convinced to lift case management burdens from other types of cases, including personal injury and clinical negligence, and cases involving protected parties.
The committee also agreed not to change the existing £10m case value threshold for the application of costs management.
Meanwhile, a report presented to the committee meeting by the Judicial College has said it is ‘undeniable’ there remains a scepticism amongst some judges to the merits of costs management.
The college developed a one-day case/costs management module after June 2013, with around 300 judges having taken the course.
The judiciary has already responded to the backlog of claims awaiting case management conferences by agreeing a temporary break in costs budgeting for clinical negligence cases.
This was after Lord Justice Jackson said the estimated nine-month waiting time for a first case management conference was ‘unacceptable’ and risked undermining his reforms.