New QBD guide – the Queens’ Bench Division has published a new guide (available on the HMCS website) for the first time since 2000. It reflects the changes to the CPR during that period, including the recent changes to CPR 36.

Changes to fees & tracks – see below under Case track proposals and Court fees for discussion of some of the proposals made in a recent flurry of Department of Constitutional Affairs (DCA) consultation papers.

Costs recovery in pro bono cases - another consultation paper, this time concerning the implementation of clause 185 of the Legal Services Bill. This clause is intended to remove the anomaly which currently exists whereby the indemnity principle prevents a pro bono assisted party from recovering costs when it wins. The sums recovered will be distributed to voluntary organisations providing free legal support. The consultation ends on 9 July 2007. The paper is available on the DCA website.

Legal aid in civil cases – several firms have signed the Legal Services Commission’s Unified Contract under protest and say they will support the Law Society’s challenge to the decision to issue the Unified Contract. The LSC has rejected the allegations made in the Law Society’s judicial review pre-action protocol letter. A particular concern is the power of the LSC under the Contract to make serious changes to the terms of its relationship with law firm providers at short notice and without compensation. It is feared that this will drive firms away from legal aid work.

Ministry of Justice – the newly-created Ministry of Justice is to begin operations on 9 May 2007. The Ministry will oversee all criminal and civil courts, sentencing, imprisonment, community penalties and rehabilitation and will be responsible for some policy and reform. Lead responsibility for criminal law and sentencing policy will be transferred from the Home Office to the DCA. The Home Office and Attorney General's Office will retain some responsibilities eg responsibility for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will remain with the Attorney General. Lord Falconer is to be the first Secretary of State for Justice.

New Lugano Convention - the final text of a new Lugano Convention on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters has been agreed, with implementation expected later this year. This will replace the existing Lugano Convention between the EC and certain EFTA states (Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland). The changes will bring the Lugano Convention fully into line with the rules that apply to the U under EC Regulation 44/2001, known as the Judgments or the Brussels Regulation.

Security for costs - the Commercial Court has confirmed that it has jurisdiction under CPR 25 to order security for costs in favour of a party seeking to set aside or resist enforcement of a domestic or New York Convention arbitration award (Gater Assets Limited v Nak Naftogaz Ukrainiy [2007] EWHC 697).

Issue-based costs orders – the judgment on costs in McGlinn v Waltham Contractors Limited [2007] EWHC 698, a long-running construction dispute, provides an excellent review of the cases and principles which govern whether costs should follow the event or whether an issue-based costs order is appropriate.