In 2008, Lord Justice Jackson was appointed to undertake a fundamental review of the rules and principles governing the costs of civil litigation and to make recommendations in order to promote access to justice at proportionate cost – an objective that has not been achieved by Lord Woolf’s reforms. Sir Rupert’s 650+ page preliminary report has now been published and is available from http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/about_judiciary/cost-review/preliminary-report.htm. The report sets out the basic facts about how much civil litigation there currently is and what it is costing and then looks at ways of reducing the costs, such as alternative ways of funding litigation, extending fixed costs beyond its current scope and court intervention in the management of cases. Conditional fee agreements and other current funding arrangements seem set to stay, although there are clear questions about whether the success fee under a CFA should have to be paid by the defendant. Personal injury claims also appear to be the target of reforms, with talk of the reappearance of a costs shifting rule that allows the claimant to recover costs if successful but which does not award costs to a defendant if the claimant fails. No recommendations are made at this stage but, instead, further input is sought through the consultation process, which remains open until 31 July 2009.
Between now and then, a number of consultation meetings will be held to discuss the report. The final report is anticipated between September and December 2009.