Interesting article in the Law Gazette recently by legal journalist Rachel Rothwell discussing the implications of the Lord Justice Jackson reforms of civil litigation costs. Rothwell points out that many personal injury lawyers including myself were frustrated that when the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill was drafted Jackson’s proposal for a 10% increase in general damages was conspicuous by its absence.
Only 1/10 Will Benefit From Increase In Damages
Granted Judges have been given power to increase payouts broadly by 10% but as only 1/10 of civil litigation claimants will ever see the inside of a courtroom the majority are essentially relying on the good faith of insurers. I’ll eat my hat if insurers take heed of this particular recommendation and start voluntary offering higher damagers! In reality most claimants will never see this 10%.
With Regards to Qualified Oneway Costs Shifting (QOCS) I agree with Rothwell that the Civil Justice Council’s panel of both claimant and defendant lawyers is the best way of determining how to implement Jackson’s recommendations.
Personal Injury Lawyers Should Be Consulted In All Areas Of Implementing Jackson Reform
Yet a crucial part of this process is the setting of parameters for determining at which point a claimant is deemed wealthy enough to pay their own costs in the eventuality of a defeat. The CJC has not been involved in this process; this has instead been left to the Ministry of Justice to decide. I feel strongly that us personal injury lawyers who work on these cases daily and have regular insight into our clients’ lives must not be left out of this process.
The fear is if the MoJ were to get this wrong and be too eager for clients to foot their legal bill then many would be deterred for making their rightful claim for damages. Access to justice would be removed for those on middle or lower incomes and only very wealthy in society would be able to seek recompense.