First verdict on Jackson: litigators give thumbs down

Kaye: early misgivings confirmed

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.

The 117 members of the London Solicitors Litigation Association (LSLA) who responded to the survey also confirmed the lack of appetite for damages-based agreements, while highlighting declining use of conditional fee agreements.

A resounding 93% of respondents said the reforms had done nothing to increase access to justice, one of the principal underlying aims, but 59% felt they would increase costs (28% said costs would fall).

Asked specifically about the costs budgeting process, nearly seven in 10 said it would increase costs.

Most had responded to the costs management regime with internal training (55%), while 13% had invested in software and 12% had hired costs specialists, either internally or externally.

A third of respondents said they had stopped or restricted the use of CFAs, and 71% said they would not use damages-based agreements – the continuing uncertainty over the legality of hybrid DBAs clearly remains a huge problem for their widespread adoption.

Surprisingly, only 63% of LSLA members said they had reviewed their litigation strategy post-April.

Francesca Kaye, president of LSLA and a partner at Russell-Cooke, said: “More than six months on from the implementation of LASPO, we’re beginning to see how the reforms are working in practice. The next six months will provide even more interesting intelligence as cases work their way through the system under the new rules and we see the first Court of Appeal decisions.

“This survey confirms some of our early misgivings about how well the changes would serve access to justice. We were concerned in April that some of the rules and regulations had been rushed through and poorly drafted. A clear example is the concern surrounding the lack of clarity in the DBA regulations.

“Despite the indication that the regulations would be reviewed it is little wonder that litigators have stayed well clear in the meantime. This has definitely been a case of more haste, less speed.”

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