Top costs expert
The media has a terrible habit of attributing expert status to those who clearly have no right to be called anything of the sort. Fox News famously interviewed a “terrorism expert” who claimed “In Britain, it’s not just no-go zones, there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in”.
In similar fashion, Costs Lawyer magazine recently published the views of “some of the country’s top costs experts” on what the coming year holds for the profession. In truth, they were prepared to publish the views of any idiot they could find.
My contribution was:
“The key elements to achieving the Jackson goal of ensuring proportionality in civil litigation were the extension of fixed fees for lower value claims and a new proportionality test for higher value claims.
Costs budgeting is already proving to be an expensive and counter-productive experiment. The Court of Appeal has already undermined any credibility in the new test for relief from sanctions. The end to recoverability of additional liabilities has been more than off-set in personal injury litigation by the introduction of Qualified One-Way Costs Shifting. The extension of fixed fees has inevitably succeeded in bringing a degree of proportionality in the fast-track.
The missing piece in the jigsaw, and the last realistic hope of ensuring proportionality for the multi-track, is the new proportionality test. Approaching two years after introduction we still do not know how the courts will apply this. This will be the main battleground for 2015.
I predict a repeat of the relief from sanctions fiasco. The matter will reach the Court of Appeal and they will deliver a robust decision following the guidance already given by Jackson. This will be followed by howls of anguish from the usual suspects, with some justification, that the decision will deny access to justice for large numbers of potential claimants.
Shortly afterwards the Court of Appeal will then “clarify” their decision and reformulate their guidance giving such a watered-down test that it would have made the judges in Lownds blush. The logic of Jackson’s recent calls for a massive extension of fixed fees will then become difficult resist, but only because a dog’s dinner was made of implementation of the original proposals.”