Jackson civil costs reforms delayed

MoJ sets back reforms to 2013

The Ministry of Justice last week announced that Lord Justice Jackson’s civil costs reforms would be deferred until April 2013.

Civil litigation funding reform will be put back by six months to give law firms time to adjust Lord Wallace of Tankerness announced during the Lords committee stage of part 2 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, the relevant bill seeking to enact Lord Justice Jackson’s proposals.

A statement released by the MoJ stated: ‘We are committed to reforming the ‘no win, no fee’ system so that legal costs for reasonable compensation claims will be more proportionate, and avoidable claims will be deterred from going to court.

‘This will require changes to legal rules and regulations and we want to give sufficient time to get the complex details right.’

Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson said: ‘The delay will give a welcome breathing space for the Ministry of Justice to now properly consider the damaging effect these changes to “no win, no fee” agreements will have on access to justice, particularly for middle England and those ineligible for legal aid.

‘The changes are complex and have been selected from a recent report by Lord Justice Jackson – despite his warning not to “cherry pick” from the report.

‘As presently conceived, we fear that the changes will advance the interests of insurance companies at the cost of access to justice and fairness. This delay gives time to pause and reconsider.’

In the Lords on Tuesday, critics of the abolition of success fees and after-the-event insurance argued for amendments to the bill.

Other peers tabled amendments for exemptions for cases involving industrial disease, libel and privacy, professional negligence and those involving claimants in a developing country or with significantly fewer funds than the defendant.

The abolition of the recoverability of success fees and associated costs in ‘no win, no fee’ CFAs, with the proposal that claimants pay their lawyers’ lower level success fees instead – were put forward in June 2011. The current bill largely consists of the implementation of the bulk of Lord Justice Jackson’s recommendations

• ‘No win, no fee’ litigation reforms pushed back by six monthsLegal Week