Civil Justice Council costs consultation – Law Society response

We've responded to the Civil Justice Council consultation on civil legal costs, advising caution before proposing fundamental reforms

The proposals

As civil justice moves into a new digital era, the Civil Justice Council (CJC) is seeking high-level views on multiple areas of civil legal costs reform.

At this stage, no specific proposals are being put forward.

Focusing on access to justice, the CJC working group is taking a strategic and holistic look at costs, including:

  • costs budgeting
  • guideline hourly rates (GHRs)
  • pre-action protocols and the digital justice system
  • wider consequences of extending fixed recoverable costs 

Our view

We call on the Civil Justice Council to:

  • recommend that the government carries out a thorough review of specific parts of the statutory framework underpinning aspects of solicitor-own client costs arrangements and their assessment
  • retain the broad concepts of costs budgeting and guideline hourly rates in the short term, but seek ways of simplifying processes that do not require fundamental reform
  • allow time for the extension of fixed recoverable costs in 2023 to bed in before introducing further fundamental reforms
  • put in place a framework for collecting adequate data to form the basis of any future reforms
  • exercise extreme caution in looking at when costs recovery should begin

Next steps

The consultation closed in September 2022.

The CJC published a report in 2023. 

Read the report

Master of the Rolls Sir Geoffrey Vos  said that further work will be needed on these topics and the CJC will consider its next steps.

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