It is refreshing to note that, at a time when the costs of personal injury litigation continue to be on the receiving end of radical reform proposals by Lord Justice Jackson and the Ministry of Justice, some Cost Judges are now speaking out and objecting to those reforms.
Such is reported in the Law Society Gazette, 02/06/11, and taken from a report back in February by the Access to Justice Action Group.The MOJ reforms are currently in a state of further consultation. In a previous blog on 25 February 2011 I had made reference to the fact that Defendants delays were said to be adding to the costs of civil claims. Comments from the Senior Court Costs Office now appear to add weight to this view.
Masters Campbell, Haworth and Leonard have submitted a response to the MOJ reform proposals and indicated that they were 'unhappily' unable to agree with the majority view of the cost judges who supported the Jackson recommendations.
The recommendations are said to be 'inappropriate' and it is foreseen that the 'radical changes' will give no guarantee that access to justice at reduced costs will ultimately be delivered. The criticism surrounds some defendants delay, which it is suggested can cause unnecessary additional costs, and - in some cases - hostility from the Defendants during the litigation process that can mean that costs increase without good reason. There is also criticism of last minute settlements from the Defendants that trigger the 100% success fee that would not apply if meaningful negotiations brought the cases to a conclusion at an earlier stage.
The Costs Judges' concern is that Claimants who suffer serious injuries may lose money intended to pay for future care if the reforms go through because of the proposed changes to funding. It would indeed to shameful for a system that seeks to give access to justice to ultimately fail to do so for the most deserving.
Tracey Graham is a partner in Personal Injury in the Manchester office of Slater and Gordon Lawyers. If you or a member of your family has suffered an accident or injury call our expert personal injury solicitors on 0800 916 9046, fill in our short online claim form and one of our specialist personal injury team will review your compensation claim for free.