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Jackson reforms will push up demand for cost budgeting assistance

Reforms also likely to tilt playing field in favour of defendants and stop claimants bringing cases

25 June 2012

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Nearly 80 per cent of costs lawyers expect the demand for assistance with costs budgeting to go up in the next 12 months, with 27 per cent saying it will increase significantly, according to a recent sector survey.

Since October 2011 judges in the technology and construction court are able to make cost management orders requiring litigants to draw up a costs map before the first case management conference.

Part of the wider Jackson reforms, the new rules will be rolled out to all court in the UK by April 2013 but the judiciary has been divided over whether judges should take such an active part in cost management.

District judges have been broadly supportive but, in their response to Jackson LJ’s consultation, the council of circuit judges said judges did not have the business skills to manage costs like “litigation projects”.

“Judicial productivity would be likely to fall as fast as morale if we are required to do this work,” they said.

According to the survey, which canvassed 137 members of the Association of Costs Lawyers, 37 per cent of costs lawyers already say demand for assistance with costs budgeting has risen in the past year.

Members of the association, which is one of the eight new frontline regulators under the Legal Services Act, also said the reforms would have a noticeable impact on their practice.

While 38 per cent say they expected the number of costs lawyers to increase in the next three years, an equal number thought the numbers would decrease, with 22 per cent thinking they would remain the same.

Among other changes the Jackson reforms would bring about, 69 per cent said they would lead to more disputes between solicitors and clients and 54 per cent thought it would discourage solicitors from taking on more complex cases.

A significant proportion of respondents also said the reforms would tilt the playing field in favour of defendants (42 per cent), with about a third saying it would discourage potential claimants from bringing cases (31 per cent).

Only 32 per cent said the consequence would be more proportionate costs, and 12 per cent that this would level the playing field between claimants and defendants.

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Procedures Costs Funding & Costs