Lord Justice Jackson has published his preliminary report on civil litigation costs. The report aims to encourage debate about whether the current costs rules meet their intended functions, and whether reforms are required. The report runs to 64 chapters and 653 pages.
In short, the report reviews the funding of civil litigation – legal aid, insurance, third party funding and conditional fee agreements. It also looks at costs in different types of litigation and identifi es ways of controlling the costs of litigation, possibly by improving the process of e-disclosure and either limiting witness statements to a prescribed length or substituting them for witness summaries (with a longer examination in chief at trial). Jackson LJ has also raised the possibility of a “no costs” regime or “one way costs shifting”, in favour of the claimant only (ie the defendant would not be able to recover costs in the event the claim was successfully defended).
Jackson LJ has emphasised that he still has an open mind as to the fi nal recommendations to be made in December 2009. He also warns that his fi nal report “will generate protests from at least some directions and quite possibly from all directions”.
As part of the debate, Jackson LJ took part in eight topical seminars in July. These seminars were designed to facilitate open and informed debate and were attended by those with relevant expertise or interest on all sides. RPC hosted the fi rst of these debates on 20 July at which after-the-event insurance, success fees and conditional fee agreements were all debated.