The great Jackson debate

It was in late 2008 that the then Master of the Rolls Lord Clarke set in motion a route to reform aimed at cracking down on spiralling litigation costs. Lord Justice Jackson was to propose that regime and the courts were to impose and enforce it.

More than five years later litigators are still working through the detail of Jackson LJ’s reforms through countless court battles.

The most recent case to be heard by the Court of Appeal (CoA) was brought about by the Mitchell v News Group Newspaper battle, in which the former chief whip Andrew Mitchell had his legal fees restricted because he failed to comply with a court order.

The implications of that ruling, to deliver heavy penalties for minor breaches, has been felt in countless cases over the last 12 months and the CoA panel, which included Jackson LJ, was assembled to sort it out.

Lawyers and courts had got the Mitchell ruling wrong, the appeal court said. What was needed was a third way of dealing with applications concerning breaches.

But, as barrister Tom Restall argues, is there a sting in the tail of this ruling that could spark a new round of satellite litigation?

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