There is little sign of the Jackson reforms achieving the goal of an increase in single joint experts being instructed, new research has indicated.
A survey of 165 experts by training company Bond Solon found that just 14% said the number of instructions to act as a single joint expert had gone up, while 21% said it had reduced.
For the majority, there had been no change.
The poll found scepticism among the experts about the Jackson reforms more broadly as well. Two-thirds of respondents felt they would not increase access to justice, correlating with the finding that only 38% believed costs would fall as a result of the changes.
Similarly, only 31% of respondents thought budgeting would reduce costs, while a fifth predicted that it would instead increase them.
Mark Solon, managing director of Bond Solon Training, said: “A requirement to itemise experts’ projected expenditure, in order to submit an accurate estimate, might actually lead to more elements of work being taken into account. There is also a need for the legal team to isolate the main issues at the beginning of a case, and that process in itself may incur costs if experts are required to help.”
Mr Solon said it was too early to say whether the Jackson reforms were a factor in a fall in the number of experts who saw more instructions over the past year – 45% in 2013, compared to 55% in 2012.
The average hourly rate for report writing was £174 for the last 12 months, compared with £162 for the previous year.
The survey also looked at experts’ experience of litigants in person (LiPs) and found it had been largely negative. Experts’ complaints about LIPs included not being paid – “although solicitors’ firms also earn criticism in this area,” Mr Solon noted – with the most commonly repeated word being ‘nightmare’.
He said: “To balance this, though, their experiences are by definition restricted to the type of LIP who instructs an expert; there are other kinds of LIP who either carry out their own research or are themselves expert in some way.”