Costs to rise under Woolf warns Laytons

CITY FIRM Laytons is warning its clients that the imminent Woolf reforms will spell “more expensive, time-consuming and burdensome” dispute resolution.
Litigation partner Richard Harrison is urging other firms to follow suit before the Civil Procedure Rules come into force on 26 April.
Otherwise, Harrison says, the legal profession will become the “fall guy” and face wave upon wave of disgruntled clients.
“It is difficult not to conclude that, for a long time to come, the system will create a substantial number of dissatisfied customers.
“The system will not be any cheaper.
“If you do not want customers to blame you, you must manage their expectations appropriately.”
He continues: “It seems that in the judicial training sessions and press releases the authorities are setting up the legal profession as fall guys.
“We must not allow them to succeed.”
Harrison claims the new rules will cause a “revolution”, of which clients and in-house lawyers need to be made aware. “If we fail to do so, the client may be in a position to complain that they were unaware of the risks.”
He describes February's practice direction relating to costs as a “quietly smoking timebomb in existing cases”.
He goes on to warn that judges are unlikely to be prepared for the additional responsibilities placed upon them.
In Laytons' new client care letter, clients are advised they must be prepared to:
Incur increased legal and third party costs.
Not expect quicker dispute resolution.
Commit more management resources at a much earlier stage in the dispute resolution process.
See court proceedings as the absolute last resort.
Expect initial judicial decisions on procedural mat ters to be at least unpredictable, or even apparently capricious.
Harrison adds: “For practical commercial clients and lawyers at the sharp end, there is no alternative but to tell it like it is, and how it's going to be “