Judges in the vanguard of the post-Jackson costs management era will go into April armed with just 4.5 hours of training, a quarterly newsletter and a podcast.
In a response to a freedom of information request, the Judicial College confirmed that all 728 salaried civil judges will have had just one day’s training in how to deal with radical changes coming into force on 1 April.
From that date, judges will have to oversee provisional assessments for the first time and make costs management orders once lawyers have submitted their proposed budget.
Iain Stark, chair of the Association of Costs Lawyers, warned that many judges are ‘ill-prepared and ill-equipped’ to deal with the reforms.
‘I have nothing but admiration for the judges, but this training is supposed to equip them to deal with one of the most fundamental changes since 1998,’ he said.
‘How many of the judges were in practice in the last three or four years? How many were barristers and have never conducted a piece of litigation? These people will have 4.5 hours to train for something that lawyers started preparing for months ago.’
The Judicial College said seminars held in Coventry, Leeds and London ran from 10am to 3.30pm and focused on an introduction to the Civil Procedure Rules amendments with four group exercises on pre-costs management, the costs management conference, the pre-trial conference and the assessment of costs.
The sessions made no specific reference to training for provisional assessments.
The Judicial Office said further training will be provided in two further modules on costs, but the first of these will not happen until 20 May.
The FoI request also revealed that pre-April training has cost around £114,000. Stark said: ‘If you divide that by the number of judges it means we’ve spent around £150 on training each judge – I spend more on an MOT for my car.’
In addition to training, judges have been given ‘preparatory learning material’ for all the courses. Separately, judges received a podcast and ‘toolkit’ of checklists, rules and materials which can be used after 1 April.
Judges were expected to spend at least eight hours downloading materials and reading in advance of the training.
The Judicial College said 80% of respondents to a post-training questionnaire felt the session had been useful to them in their judicial role, although some said they would have preferred a two-day seminar.