By Andrew Wilson
Just when personal injury practitioners thought it was safe to go back into the water, in a speech last Thursday (28/1/16), Lord Justice Jackson announced proposals to widen the current fixed costs regime applicable in fast track personal injury claims to all civil claims valued up to £250,000. The full speech is available here
Whilst the announcement did not come as any great surprise, many had hoped the current ‘new’ regime, including costs budgeting for multi-track cases, would be given greater time to ‘bed in’ before being faced with further radical reform. However, Jackson made clear in the speech his desire to see his proposals implemented by as early as the end of the year, and informed commentators such as Professor Dominic Regan have suggested the Government has already decided to support them.[i]
Jackson included in his speech (at page 13) a grid of suggested fixed costs. For example, a total of £18,750 (not including disbursements, but inclusive of counsel’s fees) for a claim worth £25,000-£50,000, and which concludes at a trial lasting up to 5 days. Whilst the precise figures will remain to be determined, and Jackson foresees that certain categories of case might justify an uplift (e.g. clinical negligence), he discourages the ‘Balkanisation’ of fixed costs for different types of case and is keen that the grid should apply to all.
The reaction on social media ranged from deep gloom and resignation, on Thursday evening, to a belief the proposals offered opportunity for those prepared to adapt and innovate, as the days passed by. Whichever view proves to be correct, and it may be a combination of both, what seems sure is that a further period of possibly turbulent change is coming –
“What am I going to tell the kids?”
“Tell them I’m going fishing.”
You can follow Andrew on Twitter @pibarrister (https://twitter.com/pibarrister)