Lord Chancellor, Liz Truss, recently published a consultation paper called 'Transforming our Justice System' which states the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is preparing to extend fixed recoverable costs to 'as many civil cases as possible'.
Introducing these measures will 'provide transparency and certainty for all parties and are designed to ensure that the amount of legal work done is proportionate to the value of the claim'.
The measure is in line with Sir Rupert Jackson's proposal for a universal fixed costs regime to capture all claims worth up to £250,000. Professor Dominic Regan, leading expert in the field of civil procedure, has acknowledged there is "inexorable pressure to roll out fixed costs" and that the reform would reduce the pressure brought by costs management and would avoid prolonged disputes about the level of costs.
However Regan believes the scope of Jackson's reform is too broad to implement from the outset and instead there should be "a pilot scheme in a clearly defined category of claims" worth up to £75,000. Additionally, the proposals currently shed no light upon 'proportionality' in cases worth more than the fixed costs limit.
The Government has also confirmed it will build on the recommendations of Lord Justice Briggs and establish a new online court system to enable non-injury cases to be dealt with in a more time and cost effective manner. The Lord Chancellor has made it clear the Government is "committed to investing more than £700 million to modernise courts and tribunals".
The online court system would see lawyers being excluded and instead court staff would oversee administration of justice and seek to resolve claims via telephone mediation. Judicial time would be reserved for the most complex cases.
The MoJ has said: "When hearings are required, they may be held over the telephone or video conference, focusing court resources on the most complex and difficult cases. This will mean that cases should reach a quick resolution".
The reforms outlined in the consultation paper are based on three core principles that the system must be just, proportionate and accessible as the MoJ wants to ensure that our courts and tribunals 'always deliver swift and certain justice for everyone'. The consultation will end on 27 October.