A widespread consensus has emerged that Lord Justice Jackson is backing away from extending fixed recoverable costs to cases worth up to £250,000, Litigation Futures can report – although what level he is now looking at is unknown.
The judge is due to deliver his report by the end of July, and several sources indicate that the message of how difficult it will be to fix costs for higher-value cases has got through.
In his report to last week’s Law Society council meeting, interim chief executive Paul Tennant said: “We anticipate that the final recommendations will move away from the initial suggestion of fixing costs for all claims up to £250,000, although we await clarity on the final figure.
“The report to the Lord Chief Justice and the Master of Rolls must be published by 31 July 2017, although this deadline may be altered in light of the General Election.”
Speaking to Litigation Futures last week, Brett Dixon, new president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), agreed that this view “seems to be the general consensus”.
Meanwhile, speaking yesterday at a conference in Manchester organised by the Association of Costs Lawyers, well-known costs expert Professor Dominic Regan said it has become clear that Jackson LJ “has abandoned fixed costs up to £250,000 or anywhere near that figure”.
An alternative figure of £125,000 has been suggested but nobody seems to know what the judge might be thinking.
Jackson LJ gave little away during his address to APIL’s annual conference last Friday, although he acknowledged the specific difficulty of trying to fix costs for clinical negligence cases worth more than £25,000 except in matters where liability and causation have been agreed.
He also seemed to accept the argument that costs cannot be fixed if the procedure is not as well.
Litigation Futures also understands that a deal to introduce fixed costs in noise-induced hearing loss cases has been brokered by the Civil Justice Council after more than a year of discussions.
The agreement was reached shortly before Christmas 2016, but for unknown reasons has not yet been approved by the Civil Procedure Rule Committee.