Lord Justice Jackson calls for a package of reforms to rein in the costs of civil justice

Lord Justice Jackson calls for a package of reforms to rein in the costs of civil justice 25 Feb 2010

Lord Justice Jackson’s Final Report on civil litigation costs was published a little over a month ago. Since its publication there has been a huge amount of debate on his recommendations, especially on the key planks of his reforms which propose a radical overhaul of the current “no win / no fee” regime.

What are the key points arising out of the Final Report? Please click here to view the document where CMS Cameron McKenna provide a summary of the important recommendations made. The major recommendations affect personal injuries litigation, and similar types of case, where “no win / no fee” agreements are common. There are, however, other important recommendations that would impact on commercial litigation.

What is likely to happen with Lord Justice Jackson’s recommendations? The government has said that it is giving detailed consideration to Lord Justice Jackson’s report, without giving much away on what it is likely to do. In a recent session of Question Time:

•Jack Straw MP (Labour), the Secretary of State for Justice and the Lord Chancellor, said that the Final Report “is remarkable for its thoroughness and imagination”, going on to say “we are now actively assessing the implications of Sir Rupert's proposals, including - crucially - their economic impact”.

•Henry Bellingham MP (Conservative), said “We, too, welcome this remarkable magnum opus”.

•Another Conservative MP said “I have read every word of the report!”, to which Jack Straw responded “There will be an examination straight after this!” If you, too, would like to read every word of the Final Report, or even just parts of it, the report can be downloaded here.

Recently in the House of Lords, Lord Woolf himself asked Lord Bach (the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice) how long he anticipated the government’s initial consideration of the Final Report would take. No clear indication was given of a likely time frame.

It is therefore presently unclear as to what will happen with Lord Justice Jackson’s recommendations. Some of his recommendations can be implemented through judicial decisions, but others (including the major recommendations) will require primary and secondary legislation. To complicate matters, there is the prospect of an election in the near future, and a possible change of government.

Despite these matters, what is clear is that Lord Justice Jackson’s recommendations have the full backing of the senior judiciary, who are taking active steps to seek their implementation. We should expect to see significant changes come about as a result of Lord Justice Jackson’s Final Report. The big questions are what those changes will be, who will implement them, and when.

For further information please contact a member of our Dispute Resolution Group, or alternatively Julian Bailey.

Julian assisted Lord Justice Jackson in all three Phases of his costs review, including in the preparation of the Final Report.

This article first appeared in Law-Now, CMS Cameron McKenna's free online information service, and has been reproduced with their permission. For more information about Law-Now, please go to www.law-now.com