Massive extension of fixed costs announced
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has announced its intention to implement Sir Rupert Jackson’s proposals for extending fixed recoverable costs to most cases worth up to £100,000.
However, rather than introducing a new intermediate track for cases worth £25,000 to £100,000, as Sir Rupert had suggested, it proposes extending the fast-track to claims worth up to £100,000.
The MoJ has accepted the fixed costs figures set out in the grid proposed by Sir Rupert in his 2017 report:
“Sir Rupert consulted with his team of 14 assessors, drawing on a breadth of views and experience, and brought his own expertise to bear in finalising the figures. As such, we consider that the figures have been devised with appropriate rigour and intend to implement them as he recommends.”
The MoJ has proposed an uplift of 35% on the fixed costs figure where a party succeeds on a Part 36 offer. This will replace an order for costs on the indemnity basis.
The intention is to make the extended fixed costs regime more watertight and thereby make escaping it harder. This will clearly require careful drafting.
In the event there remains a dispute as to the costs payable, and the matter has not gone to trial with the costs being summarily assessed, there will be a shortened form of detailed assessment, with a provisional assessment fee cap of £500.
If that was not enough, the MoJ has stated:
“It remains our intention to extend the areas in which costs are controlled in due course: such an extension could include extending FRC to further categories of claims, including claims of higher value, and controlling costs incurred before the first costs and case management conference, where cases are not otherwise subject to FRC.”
The matter is now out for Consultation, with closing dates for submissions by 6 June 2019.