Costs, fees and funding

Civil Justice Council costs consultation – Law Society response

Help shape changes to civil legal costs by sharing your views and data by September 2022.

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.

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

Read the consultation

The proposals

At this stage no specific proposals are being put forward.

Questions cover the following areas.

Costs budgeting

  • Is costs budgeting useful?
  • What, if any, changes should be made to the existing costs budgeting regime?
  • Should costs budgeting be abandoned?
  • If costs budgeting is retained, should it be on a “default on” or “default off” basis?
  • For cases that continue within the costs budgeting regime, should any high-level changes be made to the procedural requirements or general approach?

Guideline hourly rates (GHRs)

  • What is or should be the purpose of GHRs?
  • Do or should GHRs have a broader role than their current role as a starting point in costs assessments?
  • What would be the wider impact of abandoning GHRs?
  • Should GHRs be adjusted over time and, if so, how?
  • Are there alternatives to the current GHR methodology?

Pre-action protocols and digital justice

  • What are the implications for costs associated with civil justice of the digitisation of dispute resolution?
  • What is the impact on costs of pre-action protocols and portals?
  • Is there a need to reform the processes of assessing costs when a claim settles before issue, including both solicitor own client costs, and party and party costs?
  • What purpose(s) does the current distinction between contentious business and non-contentious business serve? Should it be retained?

The extension of fixed recoverable costs

  • What impact do the changes to fixed recoverable costs have on the issues already raised?
  • Are there any other costs issues arising from the extension of fixed recoverable costs, including any other areas in which some form of fixed costs or cost capping scheme may be worthy of consideration?
  • Should an extended form of costs capping arrangement be introduced for particular specialist areas (such as patent cases or the shorter trials scheme more generally)?

Get involved

The CJC is keen to hear from:

  • civil legal practitioners
  • other interested stakeholders
  • those with data to support new ideas

Email your feedback to CivilJusticePolicy@lawsociety.org.uk by Friday 9 September, and we'll consider your views in our consultation response.

Alternatively, you can respond directly to the CJC by 12pm on Friday 30 September.

Next steps

The consultation closes on 30 September 2022.

Consultation responses will inform a report by the Civil Justice Council, which is expected by the end of 2022.

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