• Lord Justice Gillen has recommended that the County Court jurisdiction should increase to £60,000, the District Judges jurisdiction should increase to £25,000 and Small Claims jurisdiction should increase to £5,000 however personal injury and RTA claims would remain excluded from the Small Claims jurisdiction.
  • A move towards a paperless court. Lord Justice Gillen accepted that the court would have to go paperlight for some time before becoming paperless, but paperless is the ultimate aim.
  • Justice to be delivered in many ways with modern hearing rooms and even remote locations by video link, laptop, smartphones and online with a citizen and a decision maker coming together virtually.
  • Online dispute resolution as an alternative to court and certain types of low value money damages cases of under £5,000, excluding personal injuries over the value of £1,000.
  • Fixed fees in the High Court which would be introduced in four scale bandings depending on the value or the complexity of the case and the judge would determine the relevant band at the end of the case.
  • Lord Justice Gillen also stated that further consideration should be given in relation to exploring the possibilities of conditional fee arrangements, one way cost shifting and after the event insurance, within the next 12 months.
  • A greater emphasis on pre-action protocols and case management with effective sanctions for non-compliance.
  • No costs sanctions are however proposed for breaches of the pre-action protocol by a plaintiff. In contrast, there is the potential for a de facto costs sanction on the defendant. It is recommended that where a defendant fails to respond to a letter of claim within 21 days a plaintiff should issue an application for pre-proceedings disclosure. It is unclear how this would work in practice but there is a potential for costs to be awarded to a plaintiff for these applications.
  • The letter of claim is recommended to form part of the proceedings in the County Court and it is uncertain as to what cost consequences will follow.
  • There is a requirement that the plaintiff’s letter of claim should contain details of medical reports currently available and details of any financial loss incurred, for example, credit hire details even where such details are necessarily provisional and thereafter, the defendant will have 21 days in which to reply unless good reason is provided for the lack of reply.
  • The insured will have three months to admit liability and if liability is denied they have to state with clarity the defendant’s case.
  • In the High Court pre-action protocols incorporating the best features of England and Wales are to be drawn up and there is a strong suggestion that costs penalties could feature in these protocols.
  • Modernisation of court procedures to include legislation to be introduced, which compelled court approval for all legal cases involving the settlement or award of damages to minors.
  • Greater judicial case management of cases with heavy costs penalties for non-compliance with directions.
  • A proposal that the timescale for making a lodgement into court is increased from 28 days to 58 days.
  • ADR and mediation – a pilot scheme should be introduced for compulsory mediation in all civil cases up to £5,000 with a possibility of expansion thereafter to £10,000 and this would include RTA and personal injury claims.
  • Lord Justice Gillen also wants a creation of a new business hub in the High Court embracing the commercial, chancery and judicial review courts.
  • Lord Justice Gillen has suggested the creation of a Civil Justice Council and the Lord Chief Justice, Sir Declan Morgan, has now recommended the setup of such a council in shadow form pending ministerial approval when a Government Minister is in position to do so.
  • This Council would be set at a strategic level for driving significant improvements in the performance of the Civil Justice system.