31 July 2012Print This Post

Costs pilots extended as new experts guidance is published

Pickering: chaired CJC working party

The three costs pilots running in the county court and High Court are set to be extended for a further six months, it has emerged.

The draft 59th update of the Civil Procedure Rules says that the pilots – which were all due to end on 30 September 2012 – should now run until 31 March 2013.

The pilots are the the county court provisional assessment scheme, and costs management in defamation proceedings and in mercantile courts and technology and construction courts. The first two have both previously been extended, while the latter has been going for a year.

The provisional assessment move may come as a surprise given that Lord Justice Jackson, in a speech in January, said he would recommend to the rule committee that it be rolled out nationally after encouraging results from the pilot's first year.

In the first master's decision arising from defamation pilot, Master Hurst disallowed a £300,000 overrun because there was no good reason to depart from the budget.

There is only one proposed change to the Costs Practice Direction, which is to omit paragraph 13.2(3). This provides that the court should as a general rule make a summary assessment of the costs in hearings in the Court o

f Appeal to which paragraph 14 of Practice Direction 52 applies.

The update also introduces a small claims mediation pilot for the County Court Money Claims Centre from 1 October 2012 to 31 March 2013. The pilot will not apply to personal injury or housing disrepair claims, any claim in which the sum claimed exceeds £5,000, or where any party does not agree to referral to the Small Claims Mediation Service.

The changes have not yet been signed off justice minister Jonathan Djanogly.

Meanwhile, the Civil Justice Council has published revised guidance for the instruction of experts in civil claims; the previous version was published in 2005 and updated in 2009.

One change is to relax slightly the absolute ban on experts working on a contingency fee basis. The revised guidance says it is “highly undesirable” and should only happen “in those exceptional circumstances where the court authorises such an arrangement”.

The CJC working party was set up last autumn after the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, announced a review of the guidance in the light of the Jackson report and the decision in Factortame (No 8) [2003] QB 381.

It was chaired by Irwin Mitchell chief executive John Pickering, a CJC member. The others on the working party were: Mark Harvey, CJC member, Hugh James partner and claimant representative; Simon Margolis, chief executive of medical reporting agency Premex; Dr Jan Wise, medical expert and British Medical Association member; Simon Cuerden, a partner and forensic accountant at Deloitte; John Gosling, a commercial litigation partner at Addleshaw Goddard; and District Judge Robert Jordan, a former CJC member.

The new version of the guidance will be published in the White Book shortly.

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