The rigidity introduced by the Mitchell judgment has fractured co-operation between solicitors, while costs budgeting has driven up law firms’ costs, according to a survey of civil litigators.
An announcement on whether the regulations governing damages-based agreements are to be changed is expected shortly, a major conference on the first year of the Jackson reforms heard on Friday. The extension of fixed recoverable costs is also on the government’s agenda.
The April update of the Civil Procedure Rules will contain the outcome of the review of the exemption from mandatory costs management for the specialist civil courts, Mr Justice Ramsey confirmed last week.
Seven months into the Jackson reforms and litigators see rising costs and no greater access to justice as the main results so far, according to a new poll. It also confirmed the lack of appetite for damages-based agreements.
Burford Capital yesterday formally launched its ‘hybrid DBA’ that enables law firms to use damages-based agreements without the risk of falling foul of the regulations which govern them.
The rules on damages-based agreements should be changed to free up solicitors to offer a mixture of contingency fees and hourly rates in commercial cases, the judge in charge of Jackson implementation said this week.
Solicitors advising on damages-based agreements should make detailed notes at the time agreement is made in case they are later accused of exploiting the client, one of the leading barristers in solicitors’ regulation has advised.
Continuing concern over the potential for mis-selling damages-based agreements has led the Legal Services Board to order the Legal Ombudsman to monitor the complaints it receives in relation to them.