Lawyers have ‘grown up’ to accept that there needs to be reform in civil litigation costs, the architect of the proposed fixed fees regime said today.
Lord Justice Jackson told the Association of Costs Lawyers conference this morning that since he was first appointed to assess costs in 2008 he had noticed a dramatic ‘sea change’ in lawyers’ attitudes to his proposals. Since his appointment, and his subsequent review into civil litigation costs in 2013, a ‘new generation of lawyers with a better understanding of costs law’ has emerged.
‘When I first proposed that costs should be budgeted there were gasps of horror,’ he said, adding that lawyers fought ‘tooth and nail to defend an indefensible system’.
‘By the time of my second review there was not the same degree of hostility,’ he noted. ‘I put this change in attitude down to two factors. Firstly, many young lawyers have grown up and have a greater acceptance of costs budgeting. Second, I sense a realisation that untrammelled litigation costs are unacceptable to society.’
‘The only way to manage costs is to make a choice,' he said. 'Either cases are assessed on an ad hoc basis or there is a one size fits all approach.'
In his review into fixed recoverable costs, published in July, Jackson scaled back his previous suggestion that fixed costs could be applied to all claims up to a value of £250,000.
His report proposes:
- A fixed grid of fixed recoverable costs for all fast-track cases.
- A new ‘intermediate track’ for certain claims up to £100,000 and which can be tried in three days or less with not more than two experts on each side.
- Piloting a ‘capped costs’ regime for business and property cases up to £250,000.
- New measures to limit recoverable costs in judicial review cases.
Jackson was unable to tell delegates what the government's response would be. He hoped the Ministry of Justice would announce its plans shortly.