Fix civil litigation costs with care, Law Society urges

Civil litigation costs should be fixed at a reasonable rate for the legal work done, the Law Society of England and Wales said as the government launched a consultation on fixed recoverable costs.

“A regime to limit the costs of civil litigation could have both positive and negative impacts on access to justice and will need to be carefully calibrated if it is to be fair to everyone engaged in a claim,” said Law Society president Christina Blacklaws.

“Crucially, justice must be attainable for all. We will be scrutinising the detail of the government’s proposals as they will have far-reaching effects when implemented.

“Fixed recoverable costs should usually only apply to 'low value' and non-complex claims - exemptions should be available for complex or unusual cases.

“Rates and thresholds should be regularly reviewed and adjusted by reference to appropriate indices and to take account of changing processes and developments in technology.

“Appropriate and efficient IT is essential to the proper delivery of any new fixed costs regime and we will need to see court procedures and rules properly aligned with the launch.”

In 2017 Sir Rupert Jackson recommended that fixed recoverable costs should apply to claims valued up to £25,000, with a further fixed recoverable costs regime for some cases of modest complexity up to £100,000.

“We know that there are fewer claims since the last round of reforms were introduced in 2013,” Christina Blacklaws added, “So we will be working with the Ministry of Justice to ensure rates and thresholds are underpinned by strong empirical evidence and research to protect people’s ability to uphold their rights, whatever their status or wealth.”

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