The post-Jackson costs management regime celebrated its second birthday earlier this year. Mr Justice Coulson is now heading up a sub-committee tasked with reviewing its operation so far.
In May, Lord Justice Jackson offered his thoughts in the third annual Harbour Funding Lecture on whether it is now time to simplify the regime. He suggested the following changes based on research and discussions with key judges:
- Compulsory, standardised costs management training for judges;
- Require parties to lodge costs budgets 14 days before the CCMC, thereby removing the courts' discretion, and resulting uncertainty, as to when costs budgets should be lodged;
- A standard form of costs management order to address the variation in orders issued;
- A new form bill of costs which is readily comparable with costs budgets for detailed assessment proceedings. This will most likely adopt the recommendation of the Hutton Committee - new "J-Codes" which assign all time recordings to Precedent H phases.
- Address the shortcomings of Precedent H but without too many successive changes;
- Reinstate the original wording of CPR 3.15 which gives courts discretion whether to costs manage (they "may" do so) and provide guidance on when to make a costs order in the Practice Direction.
- Give courts power to:
- Summarily assess incurred costs rather than just being able to provide comment; and,
- Set a global budget figure for incurred and future costs.
If adopted (and it probably will be) it is hoped this more interventionist approach will prevent excessive costs budgets. The proposals aim to tackle the delay and backlog some courts face as cases awaiting CCMCs stack up – they can now take an average of 9 months to be listed.
In order to clear the backlog, we understand that there will be a moratorium so that costs management will not take place in clinical negligence cases listed for CMCs in the RCJ during Autumn 2015.