Grayling facing two JR bids on legal aid cuts

The Law Society’s Council has agreed to seek judicial review of the legal aid crime duty tender process. President Andrew Caplen said:

“In the interests of access to justice, the public and the legal profession, we have decided to seek a judicial review of the legal aid crime duty tender process. In our opinion, the process creates a serious risk of market failure which could have major implications for society as well as the profession.”

The CLSA and LCCSA have also confirmed they will pursue their own JR challenge. Jon Black, president of the LCCSA, said:

“If we don’t challenge these dangerous plans, our high streets will be cleared of legal aid solicitors and vast, distant legal warehouses will be created, which will frankly dispense tick box justice. A minister accepted in parliament this week  that the government is hell-bent on making hasty cuts without any considered evaluation of the consequences . We have no choice but to try and stop these justice-denying contracts in order to save a key component of the already maimed criminal justice system.”

Read the full Law Society Gazette article

Response to Report on GHR published

Master of the Rolls’ decision and Committee’s report on Guideline Hourly Rates 

The Master of the Rolls has published his response to the Civil Justice Council Costs Committee’s comprehensive report on Guideline Hourly Rates, rejecting the committee’s findings and determining there should be no change to the guideline hourly rates which were last updated in 2010 due to an in sufficiently strong foundation of evidence. He did however accept several of the Committee’s recommendations, including that:

  • There should not be an additional Grade A star
  • Separate GHR bands specific to specialist fields of civil litigation should not be introduced
  • Separate rates should not be introduced for detailed assessments of costs, but that there should be greater flexibility in detailed assessments than would ordinarily be shown in summary assessments

Two positive changes which will be introduced in October 2014 are that:

  • Grade A fee earners will include Fellows of CILEX with 8 years’ post-qualification experience
  • Costs Lawyers who are suitably qualified and subject to regulation will be eligible for payment at GHR Grades C or B, depending on the complexity of the work

New Model CFA, but be warned!

The Law Society has published a new Model CFA for use in personal injury and clinical negligence cases.

However, be warned! Commentators have suggested that it contains errors. See Kerry Underwood’s stark warning regarding its use.

New Offices

We are delighted to announce our move to new larger offices as of today. The move is part of our ongoing expansion and will allow us to continue providing the service our clients have come to expect for many years to come.  

Costs Lawyer Rights

Costs Lawyers have earned their long awaited right to litigate, says Sue Nash…

“It took many years for the Association of Law Costs Draftsmen, as it then was, to make the case for independent rights of practice for its members and have it accepted by government and Parliament. This has given birth to a new breed of highly professional and accountable costs lawyers who are regulated as vigorously as any other lawyer.”

See New Law Journal article

Concern over recoverability of ATE insurance in clinical negligence cases

The Statutory Instruments Joint Committee have reported The Recovery of Costs Insurance Premiums in Clinical Negligence Proceedings Regulations 2013 for appearing to be “..of doubtful vires and (to the extent that the vires exist) making an unexpected use of the power under which they were made.” The Report concludes that…

“…the wording of section 58C(2) [of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990] at least arguably requires any regulations under that section to relate only to specified descriptions of proceedings and policies. Even if that view is found to be stricter than justified, the wording of the Explanatory Notes appears to create a clear expectation that coverage of the Regulations in respect of proceedings will be less than comprehensive.”

A response is awaited. 

New ACL Website

The Association of Costs Lawyers has launched its new website. Take a look.

Fundamental dishonesty leads to removal of QOCS protection

Exaggerated symptoms see claimant lose QOCS protection in first ‘fundamental dishonesty’ decision 

A circuit judge has ruled in Gosling v Screwfix and Anr (unreported, 29 March 2014) that a personal injury claimant who exaggerated the extent of his ongoing symptoms should be denied the protection of qualified one-way costs shifting (QOCS) on the grounds that the claim was “fundamentally dishonest”. See the full Litigation Futures article.

MPs defeat challenge to CFA regulations as latest changes to CPR are published

The new regulations governing conditional fee agreements (CFAs) cleared their final hurdle yesterday after the government defeated a last-ditch Labour challenge to them.

Read the full Litigation Futures story here.

Costs Management

The Hon Mr Justice Ramsey has delivered the 16th Implementation Lecture in relation to Sir Rupert Jackson’s reform package, concerning Costs Management. He unveiled additions to CPR3 (3.11 to 3.18), a new Practice Direction 3E and amendments to Section 6 of the Costs Practice Direction. The changes are intended to give effect to the Sir Rupert’s proposals for costs management based on four essential elements, namely:

(i) The parties prepare and exchange litigation budgets or (as the case proceeds) amended budgets.

(ii) The court states the extent to which those budgets are approved.

(iii) So far as possible, the court manages the case so that it proceeds within the approved budgets.

(iv) At the end of the litigation, the recoverable costs of the winning party are assessed in accordance with the approved budget.

Mr Justice Ramsey concluded by saying…

“Costs management forms an essential part of the reforms proposed by Sir Rupert. It will allow the courts properly to implement the new test of proportionate costs and to reduce the overall costs of litigation. The pilot schemes have shown that this is a new discipline which can and is being learnt. With proper training, solicitors, barristers, barristers’ clerks and judges can each play an important role in the management of the costs of litigation.”

The full Lecture can be read here.