Lord Justice Jackson has significantly scaled down previous plans to introduce fixed recoverable costs for all civil cases worth up to £250,000.
Instead, fixed recoverable costs will apply to all claims valued up to £25,000 (the fast-track), and to certain cases worth up to £100,000 that can be tried in three days or less with no more than two experts on each side (the intermediate track), Jackson LJ revealed this week in his long-awaited review of civil costs, Review of Civil Litigation Costs: Supplemental Report—Fixed Recoverable Costs by Lord Justice Jackson.
An opt-in pilot with capped recoverable costs will be run for business and property cases worth up to £250,000. New limits will be introduced for recoverable costs in judicial review cases, and a bespoke fixed costs regime will be introduced for clinical negligence cases worth up to £25,000, which are often highly complex.
The news will come as a relief to many lawyers, who feared fixed costs for all cases up to £250,000—as previously suggested by Jackson LJ—would make many cases commercially unviable, curbing access to justice for many people with valid claims. Jackson LJ toured England and Wales to hear the views of litigation lawyers while writing the report.
Andrew Langdon QC, Bar Chairman, said Jackson LJ’s review ‘indicates that he has listened carefully to the views of the legal profession and accepted proposals from the Bar Council and others that multi-track cases are so varied in character that they do not lend themselves to any rigid costs matrix, and that cost management is working better than had been supposed.
‘Encouragingly, there are also proposals in the report for a grid of recoverable fees which include ring-fencing fees for counsel or other specialist lawyers in more complex fast track cases and for intermediate track cases. These include trial advocacy fees.’
Welcoming the review as ‘a balanced package of reform’, David Cooper, council member of the Association of Costs Lawyers (ACL), said: ‘It has long seemed inevitable that the fast-track would be covered by a comprehensive fixed recoverable costs regime, but Sir Rupert is right to recommend that any extension beyond that be done is careful and measured way.’
Law Society President Joe Egan said: ‘The outcome of this review is good news for solicitors and consumers alike—a “one size fits all” approach to the regime would have risked making many cases economically unviable.
‘It is essential for justice that a successful litigant is able to recover reasonable legal costs, instead of a pre-determined fixed sum. We’re pleased that Lord Justice Jackson has listened to the strong feelings from solicitors and has reduced the scale of his original plans.’
This article first appeared in the New Law Journal on 31 July 2017.