12 December 2014Print This Post

Budgeting has “forced costs up”, LSLA says

Rising cost

Rising costs: The “opposite” of what the reformers hoped for

Budgeting has “forced costs up and will continue to do so”, John Bramhall, president of the London Solicitors Litigation Association (LSLA), has said.

His comments came as 85% of litigators predicted that post-Jackson budgeting would increase costs, in a survey by the LSLA and New Law Journal.

Only 37% said they found costs budgeting a helpful part of the litigation process and 65% believed the Jackson reforms in general, including the new rules on disclosure, had increased costs.

Mr Bramhall said it was “hard to escape the continuing concerns that litigators have”, particularly those with larger teams who made up two-thirds of the 128 survey respondents, that budgeting had “forced costs up and will continue to do so”.

He said this was “the opposite” of what reformers hoped to achieve.

“It suggests that after a suitable bedding-in period, we should take stock to see if further adjustments can be made that bring us closer to achieving the end goal of a more efficient, cost-effective process which we all wish to work towards.”

Mr Bramhall said the Denton ruling had “helped to restore sensible collaboration among litigators which had been in danger of being irreparably undermined” by Mitchell and other rulings on relief from sanctions.

“When common sense is allowed to prevail we have a much better chance of containing costs and achieving decent outcomes for our clients.”

However, most of the litigators who took part in the survey were cautious about the impact of Denton, with 68% believing it was “too early to say” whether the ruling had achieved the “right balance” in control of litigation by the courts.

Of the remaining 32%, most (19%) thought Denton had not achieved the right balance.

Elsewhere in the survey, 59% of litigators said they had stopped offering or restricted their use of conditional fee agreements. Only a third said they used, or intended to use, damages-based agreements.

While almost half of the lawyers in the survey said there had been no change in the affordability of ATE insurance since April 2013, 34% said they were able to secure “economic” cover.

Litigators were evenly split on whether the amount of litigation would decrease (36%) or stay the same (38%) over the next five years, with only a quarter predicting it would increase.

By Nick Hilborne

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