Costs Round-Up #41

Welcome to a roundup of legal costs news for the week commencing 11th January 2016.

Inter-Partes

This week the costs news headlines were dominated by official confirmation of fixed costs in clinical negligence cases from 1st October 2016. 

Whilst there has been an outpouring of data from the government on the excessive costs of clinical negligence legislation (see the annual report 2014-15 from the NHSLA here), this week Kerry Underwood has written carefully and methodically in reply here and Sir Henry Brooke dissects the NHSLA refusal to mediate on costs on the back of a second decision to penalize the NHSLA in the case of  Bristow v Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust (Case HQ 12X02176) on this very point.

Sir Henry writes:

“Since taxpayers’ money was at risk, it would be good if the Claimants’ solicitors (who were the same in both these cases) could collaborate with the NHSLA in reporting to the public just how much money was in fact wasted by the stance adopted by the Defendants’ representatives in each case.

If, by way of illustration, the taxpayer had to pay £50,000 in each case more than he would have had to pay if those representing the NHSLA had behaved prudently and reasonably, that would mean that £100,000 of public money went down the drain for no real purpose. Oh dear.”

And probably not for the first time….

This week, the relentless drive toward fixed fees received additional support from the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas in his annual report which has called for the introduction of fixed fees across the fast track and “lower end” of the multi-track.  With Lord Justice Jackson’s hotly awaited speech scheduled for 28th January 2016, it is anticipated there will be much to report on in the coming months.

And finally, the compulsory use of the new format of bill of costs has been put on hold by the Civil Procedure Rule Committee (CPRC).  The reasons behind the decision have been outlined here.  Rachel Rothwell writing in the Law Society Gazette provides more factual detail on J-codes and this seismic change to costing here – don’t forget to read the comments section for feedback on impact of the proposed scheme from those on the ground.

Legal Aid

The annual statistical review on poverty and social exclusion in the UK from the new Policy Institute (NPI) has noted a fall in both the supply and demand for legal aid in the UK.  This week, an article from the NPI explores the reasons why, here.

Our David Smith provides a series of top tips on CCMS here.  Find out more about the Legal Aid Agency Claim1C form here  and there’s news on some freebies from the Legal Aid Agency here.  Thoughts from the Law Society Gazette on the postponed mandatory introduction of the new client and costs management system from the Legal Aid Agency are summarized, here.

Keep up to date with our weekly legal cost round up, published every Friday.

Until next week