Lord Justice Jackson said today that his call to extend fixed recoverable costs to the lower reaches of the multi-track is not an admission that costs management has not worked.
“Far from it,” he wrote in an article for The Times. “My recent suggestions are precisely in line with what I proposed seven years ago in the final report.
“The experience we have gained in recent years – from fixed recoverable costs and costs management – now makes it possible to develop a regime of fixed recoverable costs for the lower region of the multi-track. There is room for debate about the cut-off point.”
Jackson LJ said that while most of the 2013 reforms from his report have “bedded in well and are working smoothly”, controversy continues over controlling recoverable costs in advance.
“There are two ways of achieving that goal: a general regime of fixed recoverable costs; or costs management on a case-by-case basis. The final report proposed a combination of those strategies, namely, the introduction of fixed recoverable costs in the fast-track and in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court, and the introduction of costs management for other claims.
“Several years later, another proposal was given serious consideration: developing fixed recoverable costs in the lower region of the multi-track, with claims valued at £250,000 being a possible cut-off point.”
He argued that costs management came as “an unwelcome shock to many because of the long tradition that litigation goes forward untrammelled, with costs to be added up at the end”. As a result ,costs management has “inevitably” been unpopular.
Sir Rupert continued: “However, the crucial fact is that increasing numbers of practitioners and judges are becoming extremely good at costs management. This shows that, contrary to the predictions of doom-mongers, the exercise is possible.
“It is a valuable discipline and in the public interest. As one district judge commented last year, if he were a litigant he would want costs management and he would want it done properly.”