The Jackson Reforms to English civil litigation have arrived. What will they mean for parties involved in proceedings in the English courts?

The long-awaited Jackson Reforms, one of the biggest shake-ups of the civil litigation regime since the Woolf Reforms in 1999, have arrived. Many of the key changes took effect as of 1 April 2013 in what has been hailed as the “big bang” in English civil litigation. Tasked by the government to conduct a wide-ranging review of civil litigation costs, Lord Jackson proposed “a coherent package of interlocking reforms, designed to control costs and promote access to justice”. The reforms will likely have a significant impact on English civil litigation, with sweeping changes to how litigation is conducted and how the associated costs are funded and recovered. For commercial parties, reforms to the following areas will be of particular interest:  

  • Costs management and proportionality
  • Case management
  • Disclosure
  • Witness statements
  • Use of expert evidence
  • Settlement / Part 36 offers
  • Funding (contingency fees / damages-based agreements)
  • Recovery of conditional fee agreements and after-the-event insurance premiums

It is clear that the Jackson Reforms are likely to affect current and future litigants significantly in the English court system.