The great training robbery

Austerity cuts could leave judges in the dark over implications of Jackson reforms

Six months before the full implementation of the Jackson reforms concern is mounting among senior figures in the litigation market that many judges in England and Wales will be unprepared.

In particular, a number of judges have little understanding of the impact the changes to costs rules are likely to have in relation to disclosure and e-disclosure.

At a recent seminar hosted by US technology company Symantec Senior Master Steven Whitaker of the Queen’s Bench Division warned that austerity cuts would result in judges having just two days training on Jackson and only half a day on the new costs regime. That half day may or may not include training on e-disclosure.

Fellow panel member Chris Dale, an e-disclosure specialist, told The Lawyer that the situation was the result of “brutal economics”, adding, “there’s not enough money for judges to be trained properly”.

The seminar focused on the trend towards the use of predictive coding as a way of reducing costs in litigation. The clear conclusion was that the majority of judges would be insufficiently prepared to deal with the use of new tools such as predictive coding in their courtrooms.

“This is going to be a battleground where a lot of money is at stake,” Dale told The Lawyer. “If the judges are not getting training on this other than a notional half-hour it means lawyers must learn to present their cases and costs in a compelling way to judges who may not understand it all.”