Lord Justice Jackson, the architect of the present civil costs regime, is pushing ahead with the proposed fixed costs regime for all claims valued at up to £250,000. He suggests this should avoid lengthy negotiations regarding costs and accelerate settlement.
Although most groups accept that fixed costs may be appropriate for lower value and less complex cases, there is huge opposition, including from the Law Society, against the implementation of fixed costs for higher value and complex cases. If this were introduced it would inevitably have a detrimental impact on access to justice and prejudice the deserving claimant.
Lord Jackson recognises that his proposals are controversial but has said that reform should reduce the pressures of costs management, (which clearly is not working) and help solicitors to explain how costs have been accrued, providing some level of certainty.
There are talks and consultations taking place throughout the year and it will be a case of “watch this space” in terms of whether (and to what extent) the proposals will be implemented. The Government has made it clear that it supports the proposed changes so the battle lines have been drawn.