The glut of after-the-event insurance deals signed before 1 April to take advantage of the old rules on recoverability could have time limits imposed on them, it emerged at the Law Society’s civil justice section conference yesterday.

Solicitor David Greene said he understood that Lord Justice Jackson was dismayed by the number of policies that had been taken out before 1 April, and there was a prospect that ‘retrospective’ changes could be introduced in relation to these policies.

The Society's Civil Justice Section co-chair Stephen Mason added that there had been talk of imposing a time limit by which proceedings must have been issued if the ATE policy was to benefit from the pre-April rules on recoverability.

Under the pre-Jackson rules, claimants can recover the cost of their ATE premium, as well as their solicitor’s success fee, from the defendant if they win. The Jackson reforms remove this recoverability.

Solicitors rushed to take out ATE insurance in the run-up to the implementation of the Jackson reforms on 1 April, with some insurers taking up to a year’s business in the month of March.

This means cases that fell under the old recoverability rules could still be passing through the courts for years in the future; particularly cases involving children.

The Gazette understands that plans to introduce a time limit are currently at a very initial stage, with a time limit of six months mooted.