The defendant costs specialists

Jackson Reforms – One Year On

By on Apr 9, 2014 | 8 comments

Now that we are a year into the Jackson Reforms, where do we find ourselves?

Strangely, not as far forward as we might have expected.

A combination of the staggered introduction and transitional provisions to the extended Portals (not actually a Jackson reform, but the extension of fixed fees was a Jackson proposal) mean the impact on these claims has yet to be fully felt. Nevertheless, the next 6-12 months will see a significant reduction in costs work in an area that is the bread and butter of many costs practitioners.

The impact of the introduction of provisional assessment has also yet to be fully felt with the transitional provisions stills seeing some lower value costs claims in the system. Although I undertake only a relatively small amount of advocacy at detailed assessment on an agency basis, I know there are some practitioners who undertake a significant amount of such work. They will acutely feel the loss of this work. Additionally, for those larger costs firms that have dedicated advocates for detailed assessments, the end to assessment for bills under £75,000 will have a major impact for work levels. Whether the provisional assessment scheme will ultimately be judged a success depends on whether the judiciary get a proper grip of the process. Early signs are not great.

Other than the odd judicial comment, we still have no real clue as to how the new proportionality test will be applied. Although this is no big surprise in relation to detailed assessment, because of the transitional provisions, we would have expected something to emerge from the costs budgeting process. Why no decision yet along the lines of: “I would have approved budgets of £100,000 given the complexity of the issues but I note the value of the claim is only £25,000 and I will therefore limit each party’s budgets to that amount”.

Costs budgeting is in serious danger of turning into a disaster. More judicial training is urgently needed to introduce some consistency in approach and to ensure judges understand the rules. The big problem is judges uncoupling costs management from case management. (More on this another day.)

Work on the new bill of costs format continues. All bills to be prepared at the touch of a button when this is ready?

And then we have Mitchell. I have already seen a number of Costs Lawyers and costs draftsmen Mitchelled and this will only get worse before it gets better. Professional indemnity insurance premiums are set to rocket.

If this was the end of the first year school report, the Jackson Reforms would merit the school teacher’s favourite: “Very trying”.

    8 Comments

  1. You have not reported on the increased costs from a) work arising from preparation of budgets including advocacy b) new statements of costs c) more cases going through assessment due to £1500 cap on pa costs which means more bills, pods and replies d) uncertainty with proportionality which means more litigation etc etc etc.

    Surely the main point about these reforms is that they are increasing costs lawyers fees rather than vice versa??

    Oh an these automated bills of costs have been dreamed up by people who obviously do not prepare bills of costs. My prediction, lets wait and see what happens about this when we are both cats in a subsequent life.

    Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    9th April 2014

  2. Simon, i am now concerned regards your mental health! first at a conference last month you tell us not to touch budgets with a pole & now you say work is going to disappear. Please take off your dark cloak, put down your scythe and consider the good points as per the previous comment.

    Anonymous

    9th April 2014

  3. I work in house – I have never, ever been busier

    And automated bills? how does that work etc when you have multiple Defendants, apportionments, generic costs or failed elements of a claim which cannot be pursued. These are just a few issues of the top off my head.

    abcde

    9th April 2014

  4. @ abcde

    I agree, but the majority of bills I see from external draftsmen, dont even begin to attempt to differentiate between the areas you suggest. Automated bills to replace those people wouldn’t change a thing, and in fact, would cut out the usual nonsense from their negotiators

    Anonymous

    9th April 2014

  5. The new Recedent H on the courts website is wrong (New one ready for revised Statement of Truth on 22nd April). Check out the template document under the 69th update!

    Issue/Statement of Case – incurred costs column totals 5+13 dont add up correctly. They are not picking up boxes 10 & 11!!

    Someone please get grip whoever is responsible for drafting these things!! Perhaps Costs Lawyers could be of assistance. They know a thing or two!!!

    Gary Stevens

    9th April 2014

  6. Lots more advocacy required at CCMCs, however not always required. E.G. using an entire day travelling cross country for a CCMC and being advised costs management not suitable

    Anonymous

    9th April 2014

  7. Or no time to deal with costs and a further CMC required ….

    abcde

    10th April 2014

  8. Considering most cost firms can’t even get automated Form H cost budgets right how on earth will they get automated bill of costs right?

    A Defendant’s dream attacking a claimant’s automated ‘bill of costs’

    Realist

    10th April 2014

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