Review of English Civil Litigation Costs – Could It Get Any Easier?
Lord Justice Jackson's Review of Civil Litigation Costs: Final Report was published on 14 January 2010. It represents the biggest review of civil litigation in England and Wales since Lord Woolf’s report, Access to Justice, in July 1996. Many of the recommendations are bold and, if adopted, would affect the insurance industry, such as:
- Ending the recoverability of success fees and insurance premiums under conditional fee agreements.
- Introducing one-way costs shifting in some types of claim.
- The abolition of the indemnity principle.
- Making contingency fee agreements available for contentious work.
- Repealing large parts of the Practice Direction on Pre-action Conduct.
- Replacing standard disclosure with a "menu" of disclosure options in some cases.
- Stronger use of judges' case management powers, including costs management.
- Increasing the damages awarded to a claimant where a defendant has failed to beat the claimant's Part 36 offer at trial.
- Extending electronic working to the High Court, county courts and district registries.
- The creation of a Costs Council, which will decide on guideline hourly rates and fast track fixed costs.
The extent to which these recommendations will be brought into force remains to be seen. With a general election taking place later this year, the reformation of civil litigation procedure is unlikely to be high on the government's agenda, so it may be some time before any necessary changes to primary legislation are enacted (if at all).
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