Costs draftsmen's late Christmas present
A number of readers no doubt work in the area of RTA claims. Some at the front-end of the claims process dealing with the substantive claim, others at the tail-end of the costs side. Hopefully, those readers will therefore be aware that we have a new claims process for low value RTAs starting on 6 April 2010 (and if they didn’t know they are in real trouble).
What some of the more observant may have noticed is that despite being only a few weeks away from the start date we still have no published rules as to how the scheme will work. Quite how this shocking state of affairs arose is a mystery. However, finally, some progress is being made. The Ministry of Justice has written to a number of specific bodies:
“The Civil Procedure Rule Committee approved the drafts of the documents listed below on the 12th February 2010. These documents are in draft form until:
(1) the Statutory Instrument has been signed by the Civil Procedure Rule Committee and the Minister and then laid before Parliament, and
(2) the practice direction making document has been signed by the Minister and the Master of the Rolls.
It is expected that the Statutory Instrument will be laid before Parliament by the beginning of March. In view of the familiarisation, training and system adjustments that practitioners will need to undertake in order to be compliant with the new process we have decided [how gracious of the powers that be] to circulate these rules etc in draft form. Please circulate to your members as appropriate.”
In case these haven’t yet made their way to you, the Legal Costs Blog and Gibbs Wyatt Stone have provided a link to all the draft documents here: RTA Claims Process. Read them and weep. No surprise that the final report in the Jackson Costs Review commented on the new process in this way: “I have two concerns about the new process in its present form. My first concern is the sheer complexity of the process. Over 80 pages of new material will be added to the rule book, in order to deal with the simplest category of litigation which exists, namely low value RTA claims where liability is admitted. I fear that collectively these procedures might possibly open up a new theatre for the costs war.”
And that, of course, it the late Christmas present for costs draftsmen. Jackson LJ may be intent on killing off the volume costs work but the Ministry of Justice, and those involved in formulating the new rules, have given it a massive boost.
Time allowing, I’ll have plenty more to say about this new RTA claims process.