Research needed to fix costs, says Lord Chief Justice

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, said this week that research needs to be carried out before the ambition of fixing costs can be achieved.

In his annual report to Parliament, he said that controlling the costs of civil litigation “continues to be a concern”, and that one area where the judiciary has “consistently pressed to see implemented is the widespread adoption of fixed recoverable costs across the range of fast-track cases and, potentially, to the lower reaches of the multi-track”.

He continued: “This would help to ensure that litigation costs are reasonable and proportionate, enabling parties to proceed with greater certainty. However, the costs must be fair and information gathering will be required before recoverable costs are fixed.

“The government has signalled its intention for further reforms and, in particular, extending the application of fixed recoverable costs to further areas of civil litigation. The judiciary has indicated that it will assist with a review that will help to develop proposals.”

Lord Thomas said the cost of disclosure “greatly impacts” the overall cost of litigation, especially in the context of big commercial cases. He explained: “The judiciary is working with general counsel from a number of large companies, as well as partners in law firms and some specialist barristers, to consider the best approach to disclosure in an electronic era – an era where disclosure can involve reviewing millions of documents.

“The merits of predictive-coding-assisted disclosure are being explored in the wake of the first decision in this jurisdiction allowing its use. Amendments to Part 31 are also being considered.”

Lord Thomas also reiterated the judiciary’s long-held worries about increasing court fees. He said: “The judiciary remain very concerned about the implications for access to justice (for the more mainstream, lower value and consumer cases) and the economic wisdom of the course being followed (in terms of business and commercial litigation, and the competitiveness of England and Wales as the jurisdiction of choice for international disputes).”

 

Credit: FruitMonkey

This post was posted in ACL e-Bulletin

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Costs News
Published date
08 Nov 2016

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