In the years immediately preceding 31st March 2013, Lord Jackson produced a “wish list” of reforms to the Civil Justice System. The majority of his proposals were enacted through LASPO Act 2013, the Government however then decided in their infinite wisdom to introduce a series of Court fee increases which have seen the cost for launching a civil claim jump by up to 620%! Many in the legal profession consider this to be an insurmountable obstacle to access to justice, many arguing that these increases have already deterred those with lower value claims bringing them to Court.
It could be argued that Lord Jackson’s reforms were intended to make access to justice a simpler, fairer and more economic process for both parties to the litigation, what happened was that the government took Lord Jackson’s reforms and ‘supersized’ them, the areas which immediately spring to mind are Provisional assessments, originally recommended for cost cases up to £25,000.00, the Government increased this to all cases up to £75,000.00. The Precedent H budget process has become virtually unworkable. The abolition of the recovery of additional liabilities and the expanding of the fixed costs regime has done little to assist the Claimant to recover the level of damages that the injuries warranted, Solicitors are now expected to work for uneconomic returns resulting in the avoidance of any cases that contain a level of complexity incompatible with the level of the likely damages.
Lord Jackson in his recent book, The Reform of Civil Litigation, has gone some way in addressing the controversies which have resulted in his reforms but has also spoken out against the increase in Court Fees and has issued a plea to the Government to stop relying on the litigant to meet the costs of the Justice system. In his book, he stressed that although it was inappropriate for Judges to campaign on this issue there was’ an important point of principle’ at stake.
Taken Lord Jackson’s reforms as a whole, he and many of his supporters feel that the changes were necessary, but there are many within the profession who feel that the end result of these reforms far exceed the original “wish List”
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