The government finally published the rules for the extended portal on Friday – with just 12 full working days until it comes into force on 31 July.
It is understood that the introduction of fixed costs for defendants in cases that fall out of the portal was one of the primary causes of the delay.
All road traffic, employers’ liability and public liability cases worth between £1,000 and £25,000 that are issued from 31 July will be subject to new fixed costs, as will cases which fall out of the portal.
The new rule 45.29F provides that where a costs order is made in favour of a defendant, the court, when assessing the defendant’s costs, will have regard to, and the amount recoverable should not exceed, the amount of costs which the claimant would have been able to recover at the same stage of the proceedings had a costs order been made in favour of the claimant.
This provision is subject to two exceptions: first, where a claim is struck out or found to be fundamentally dishonest and the claimant loses their protection under the qualified one-way cost-shifting provisions in part 44 of the CPR, the court may assess the defendant’s costs without reference to the costs which would have been recoverable by the claimant. Secondly, this rule will not apply where the court makes an order for costs under new rules 36.10A or 36.14.
If a defendant refuses a claimant’s offer to settle and the court subsequently awards the claimant damages which are greater than or equal to the sum they were prepared to accept in settlement, the claimant will not be limited to receiving his fixed costs, but will be entitled to costs assessed on the indemnity basis.
For more information, including the rules and new forms, click here.