1 April set in stone as government unveils further statutory instruments to implement LASPO

Parliament: now awash with LASPO regulations

Any hopes that the 1 April implementation of the Jackson reforms might be delayed have been ended by a statutory instrument that seems to set the date in stone.

The news comes as the government laid two further orders before Parliament that will bring further aspects of the reforms into force on that day, to follow the two made public last week.

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (Commencement No5 and Saving Provision) Order 2013, which was made on 18 January, confirms that sections 44 to 47 of the Act will come into force on 1 April.

It also specifies the exceptions to the end of recoverability: claims for damages in respect of diffuse mesothelioma, publication and privacy proceedings and various types of cases brought under the Insolvency Act 1986.

Also laid before Parliament at the end of last week were the Recovery of Costs Insurance Premiums in Clinical Negligence Proceedings Regulations 2013 and the Offers to Settle in Civil Proceedings Order 2013.

The former allows for the recovery of after-the-event insurance premiums in clinical negligence cases that cover the cost of any expert reports. The notes make it clear that the report must relate to liability or causation, and the amount recoverable is “limited to that part of the premium which insures against the risk of incurring liability to pay the cost of any such report which is actually obtained and the cost of which is allowed under the cost order”.

The second order introduces the new part 36 sanction that applies when a defendant rejects a claimant’s offer, and the claimant subsequently wins at least as much as he offered. The overall cap on the sanction is £75,000.

Subject to this, where the damages are up to £500,000, a 10% uplift is applied. Where they are £500,000 to £1m, it is 10% on the first £500,000 and 5% on the second. For damages awards above £1m, a 7.5% uplift is awarded on the first million, and then 0.001% on the rest.

In cases that partly include a non-monetary claim, the sanction only bites on the damages, but where it is non-monetary in its entirety, it is applied to the costs.

The order says rules of court can be made to determine whether an award is “at least as advantageous as an offer to settle” – which since October 2011 is judged solely in monetary terms – and to calculate the value of a non-monetary benefit.

Meanwhile, in response to questions in Parliament from her Labour shadow Andy Slaughter, justice minister Helen Grant revealed that the Ministry of Justice has received over 750 responses to its consultation on cutting the RTA portal fees, although she gave no hint of when a final decision will be announced.

Answering further questions aimed at teasing out links with the insurance industry, she said there are no plans for her or Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling to meet, or have discussions with, insurance or claimant representatives before final rates are set, while neither “had any specific meetings with either the insurance industry or claimant representatives immediately prior” to publication of the consultation.