Lord Justice Jackson will hold the first of five meetings with lawyers around the country today as part of his review into the extension of fixed costs.
The judge will kick off the series of seminars with a meeting in Leeds this afternoon to discuss the impact of fixed costs on property and chancery litigation, followed by an event in Manchester tomorrow focusing on clinical negligence and personal injury.
Other meetings will cover mercantile and business litigation; judicial review and public law; issues including counsel’s and experts’ fees, and what the upper limit for fixed fees should be. These will be held in Birmingham, Cardiff, and London respectively.
In a note circulated to attendees ahead of the events, Jackson insisted that he would ‘keep an open mind for the time being’ about the type of case that should fall within fixed costs, and the upper limit.
The judge warned that he was seeking ‘constructive input’ and recommendations from the lawyers attending, adding that ‘people who come along and simply say “don’t do it at all” will not be providing any assistance’.
Leading costs expert and solicitor Kerry Underwood will speak at both the Leeds and Manchester events, and has supplied the review with detailed costs figures that could be applied to civil cases.
Underwood’s papers have been circulated by Jackson to seminar attendees as a subject for discussion, but have not been endorsed by the judge.
The solicitor’s proposed fees combine fixed fees with a percentage of damages varying from 10% to 40%, for various stages of a claim. In the personal injury field he has drawn up figures for industrial disease, employers’ and public liability, and clinical negligence claims in protocols, fast-track and multi-track.
In multi-track PI claims worth between £25,000 and £250,000, in which liability is not admitted, Underwood’s fixed costs for the pre-issue stage would be £5,000 plus 30% of damages.
For the post-issue but pre-allocation stage, costs would be £10,000 plus 40% of damages; while for post-allocation and pre-trial, they would be £30,000 plus 40% of damages.
Underwood also proposes a banded trial advocacy fee, which would be £36,000 for the highest claim value.
From the claimant perspective, Underwood’s proposed fees in clinical negligence cases worth between £1,000 and £25,000, circulated by Jackson, compare favourably with those put out for consultation by the Department of Health last week, particularly for cases at the higher end of the damages scale.
Underwood’s proposed fees for the post-listing, pre-trial stage, for example, could reach up to £15,000 in a claim for £25,000, compared to a maximum £9,000 upper limit in the DoH’s figures.
The solicitor told the Gazette that he believed the fees he has put forward for the review could be adopted, but only if there were consensus among the profession.
Writing in the February edition of Litigation Funding, published later this week, Underwood will explain why the extension of fixed costs and corresponding portals would be a logical development.