Legal Cost Specialists

Why Jackson must be stopped

Following on from yesterday’s post on some of the more novel arguments being put forward in opposition to the Jackson costs proposals, is one I stumbled across on a law costs draftsmen’s website:

“It appears that the Senior Judges of this country are trying to damage the legal industry which for the past number of years have happily been their paymasters. Let us not forget that Solicitors and Claims Management companies breathe life into the Court Service. Without them being the champions for the rights of Claimants, a vast number of Judges would be unemployed. The old saying of biting the hand that feeds might one day be accepted but by then, it might be too late.”

Yesterday’s argument was concerned with the implication that the role of the claims industry is to help create jobs for lawyers, claims handlers, etc. This refocuses that argument to suggest that the purpose of the legal system is to keep judges in work; and judges would be well advised to keep this in mind.

I’m going to use this line the next time I bring a CFA challenge in the Senior Courts Costs Office. Unless costs judges allow a reasonable proportion of such challenges to succeed they may find themselves out of a job. I’ll let you know how I get on.

5 thoughts on “Why Jackson must be stopped”

  1. The mark of an honourable decision is one that negatively impacts your own position. While that maxim must be taken with a pinch of salt when those making the decisions have life-service employment, and the period for that is near an end, it is still a good yardstick.

    My own work is 50/50 claimant and defendant and I can’t support Jackson, but my reasons have very little to do with fees at all, but involve the reduction in status and ability of a profession that ought to be about service to those that need it. Status might sound flippant but the perception of those involved in the administration of justice must be maintained and indeed improved.

    I wrote a lovely piece on CFA / Jackson for my MP. He wrote back to tell me that he was worried about legal aid too. (I didn’t vote for him).

    But in summary

    i) Inter-parte recovery of success fees was a terrible idea from the word go and represents the worst kind of financial blackmail. The poorer the claimant the higher the bill? However the hourly rate charges must stay. It is the only proper way to detail the work required and make sure it is done properly.

    ii) One-way costs is a terrible idea. If a matter is fully defended and the claimant’s case is without merit then an indemnity costs order against the claimant should be the starting point.

    iii) Inter-parte recoverabiliy of ATE policies purchased (cheaply) about 3 months after the letter of claim should continue. It protects the claimant from bankruptcy and the main (or at least equal)beneficiary is the Defendant. But the claimants should be actually paying for these policies. No more deferred self insured policies. It’s champerty. Pure and simple.

    iv) Absolutely no ability to claim hourly rates higher than the SCCO guidelines. Stop the arguments with a 1 off task of listing every postcode: I don’t care what your special rent is, and I don’t care that you don’t have any Grade C’s at your firm at the moment. Everyone has access to the same Bar, and if a party wants luxury then that is up to them and no one else.

    v) Clarify the position on Non-qualified but very experienced staff members. Define them properly and stop the arguments. I am fed up with arguing about a man with 20 years at the coal face, opposing some idiot who admits the quality of the work was Grade A, the case was worth Grade A, the rate charged was only Grade B yet offering Grade D because he doesn’t have a certificate.

    vi) If it’s not in the multi-track then you don’t get Grade A rates inter-parte. That should be the starting point. It is not the paying party’s fault there are no lower grades in the firm. Then look at the type of action and the relative values in that type of action.

    vii) 5 year freeze on the SCCO guideline rates. This would allow sensible and planned re-structuring while reducing inter-parte costs in real terms.

    There does need to be a proper investigation into the PII market and underwriting process to go with the rate freeze.

    A very good friend of mine (Solicitor) wanted to open up a brand new Conveyancing only practice. Cheapest (and indeed only) PII quote was £28K for the 1st year.

    She asked her broker to run the exact same details again, but swap “solicitor” for “licenced conveyancer”

    PII quote: £7500.00

    Someone is taking the mickey….

  2. Look at the government’s reponse to the European Court of Human Rights’s ruling on CFAs (MGN v UK), and tell me that Jackson isn’t coming, fast… From “The Guardian” –

    “The government is considering the court’s ruling and will respond with its observations in due course as invited by the court.

    “We have already put plans out to consultation for much-needed reform of conditional fee arrangements, including success fees. This is intended to support wider government efforts to help businesses and public bodies fearful of costly litigation.

    “We want to deter avoidable or unnecessary cases by ensuring claimants have a financial interest in controlling legal costs in their case, which will reduce overall costs. Under the current arrangements claimants generally have no interest in the costs incurred because, win or lose, they do not have to pay anything towards them. Our proposals are designed to correct this and prevent the situation in which, regardless of the merits of their case, defendants are forced to settle for fear of prohibitive costs.”

  3. Pingback: Esther Rantzen speaks out against Jackson |

  4. I think it fair to say that the sleeve of the proposed reforms may have been rolled up that little bit further, if only in certain respects, by yesterday’s decision by the ECHR in the Campbell -v- MGN saga….

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