Not a single case has been allocated to a capped costs pilot scheme in the nine months since the scheme began.
Barrister Juliet Wells, a member of the working group behind the pilot, confirmed last week no cases had successfully entered the pilot since the January launch.
The scheme applies to cases valued up to £250,000 going through the business and property courts in relevant courts in Leeds, Manchester and London. It is due to last two years, and is aimed at streamlining and speeding up court procedures, lowering the costs of litigation and increasing the certainty of costs exposure.
But the scheme is also voluntary and requires the agreement of both parties – and it appears lawyers are far from keen to take part.
Speaking at the Costs Law Reports conference in London, Wells said: ‘No case has been successfully entered into the pilot so far.
‘Obviously some thought will need to be given as to why this might be the case… Low take-up does not necessarily mean low appetite. The reality is likely to be more complex than the headline figure implies.’
Wells said there may be uncertainty over costs recoverable where cases are part-way through and this could be an issue that the working group revisits.
She also pointed out that the shorter and flexible trials scheme, also introduced as a pilot, attracted just four cases in its first year, but has since been widely adopted and is now a permanent feature of the civil justice landscape.
The capped costs pilot restricts lawyers to £80,000 overall, with caps at various stages of the litigation. Cases are not eligible if they require a trial of more than two days or include an allegation of fraud.