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The litigation world is a-buzz after Lord Justice Jackson published his 500-page report into civil litigation costs (The Lawyer, 14 January).
The High Court Judge who was commissioned by the former Master of the Rolls Sir Anthony Clarke to conduct a year-long review into rising civil litigation costs has outlined a series of core proposals aimed at increasing competition in the sector and thereby reducing fees.
Jackson LJ has made a series of recommendations, some of which will need primary legislation.
Here are the headline grabbers: an overhaul of the conditional fee arrangement (CFA) model to stop claimants being able to recover after-the-event (ATE) insurance premiums; a capping of success fees at 25 per cent of damages awarded; the introduction of US-style contingency fees; and increased judicial control over cost budgeting.
The claimant lawyers have responded with anger. “Victims of personal injury would be particularly hard hit if some of the recommendations on the Jackson report are implemented,” said Irwin Mitchell head of personal injury Andrew Tucker.
Outer Temple chambers CFA manager Peter Foad said the proposals would hinder rather than help facilitate access to justice.
But commentators on TheLawyer.com have hailed Jackson LJ for cutting the financial lifeline of ambulance chasers by banning referral fees.
Rural Bliss states: “By abolishing referral fees it will rid us of a whole raft of parasites and ambulance chasers.
It’s also morally right that a claimant should have some financial cost, otherwise there is no incentive on his lawyers to run the litigation economically. There is no other service which is entirely free, and there’s no reason why litigation should be any different.”
The litigation sector is on the brink of major change.
The implementation of the Legal Services Act will bring non-lawyers into the profession (The Lawyer, 9 February) and the Financial Services Bill will enable collective actions against corporate institutions (The Lawyer, 30 November).