National law firm Irwin Mitchell has promised its commercial litigation clients “absolute certainty” through a staged fixed-fee scheme launched today.
The firm described the move as “a response to the rising costs of litigation, typified by the recent staggering increase in court fees”.
Unlike similar products, Irwin Mitchell said barrister and experts fees could be included in the fixed fee.
Jonathan Sachs, the firm’s London head of commercial litigation, said: “The obvious benefit of this product to a claimant is that he/she will have absolute certainty as to what it will cost to bring legal proceedings, and seek recovery of losses suffered. No extra costs above and beyond that which has been proposed will be charged.
“Corporate financial officers will be able to budget for the litigation appropriately – there will be no unwelcome surprises which would require an explanation to the board of directors, and no unexpected costs to report to shareholders.
“Claimant clients will be given a huge degree of certainty, in an often uncertain environment.”
The firm said it was “one of the few law firms” to take the step, which it described as a “logical extension” of the conditional fee agreements, litigation funding and project fixed fees already being offered.
It said the new scheme was a response to huge increases in court fees, along with uncertainty over expert costs, “created by the outdated and expensive hourly rate” and estimate model.
Meanwhile, High Court judges at the Rolls Building today launched, as anticipated, two schemes aimed at speeding up commercial trials.
The shorter trial scheme aims to “resolve disputes on a commercial timescale”, with cases dealt with by the same judge from beginning to end with the goal of reaching trial within approximately 10 months. The maximum length of trial would be four days.
The flexible trial scheme would allow for more flexible case management where both sides agree, with the aim of producing a “simplified and speedier” trial.
Lord Thomas, the Lord Chief Justice said: “Small and medium-sized businesses are the lifeblood of the economy. To prosper, they need disputes to be resolved in a speedy, fair and economic way.
“The introduction of this judge-led reform will help to ensure that court users can have their disputes resolved quickly, improving access to justice for businesses.”
Many of the procedures which will be followed in the schemes are already available under the Civil Procedure Rules but are not always applied.