Lord Justice Jackson's report concluding his review of civil litigation costs does not disappoint.
He has refined the views he expressed in his preliminary report following consultation and reaches some bold conclusions. The most significant is the need to repeal the legislation which permitted the recovery of success fees and after the event insurance premiums from unsuccessful defendants. This would be coupled with the introduction of one-way costs shifting (where an unsuccessful claimant does not have to pay the defendant's costs) in personal injury claims and some others and an increase in the level of general damages for personal injuries and other civil wrongs to help the claimant pay the success fee and premium. He would also permit regulated contingency fee agreements for both solicitors and barristers with costs being recovered on the conventional basis. Caps would apply to both success and contingency fees in personal injury claims.
There are strong views on both sides concerning these proposals and it would be foolish to imagine that the necessary legislation is going to be drawn up in the near future, even were the proposals to have the wholehearted support of the Government, whatever that will mean by the end of 2010. What we can be sure of is that we will be dealing with cases funded under the existing system for many years to come.
In these circumstances, it seems sensible to look at changes which might start happening now, either because they can be implemented by on the ball judges flexing their existing powers or because the rules changes required to the CPR can be made by the Civil Procedure Rules Committee.
Click here for the report