Fixed Costs Proposal Raises Questions on Access to Justice
1 February 2016
Bar Council Chair Chantal-Aimée Doerries QChas responded to Lord
Justice Jackson's speech on 28 January 2016 to the Insolvency
Practitioners' Association, "Fixed Costs - The Time has come",
calling for recoverable costs to be fixed in all claims valued at
up to £250,000.
She said: "We look forward to reviewing Lord Justice Jackson's
proposals in detail .Where litigation is straightforward, fixed
costs may help to resolve disputes more efficiently, but designing
and implementing such a scheme will require very careful
thought to avoid unintended consequences.
"Large corporations and governments may well be willing to spend
large sums of money - beyond what is recoverable - on legal
disputes with individuals or smaller corporations whose costs are
fixed at a much lower rate. Instead of levelling the playing field,
this proposal could tilt it further in favour of big business and
"There is also a risk that access to justice will be restricted.
Using the value of a case to determine costs will not always be
appropriate. A low value but legally complex case may demand a
great deal more work than the allocated cost band will allow. This
means lawyers may not take on complicated, low value cases, thus
preventing legitimate claims from being pursued.
"Lord Justice Jackson's acknowledgement of the need to build in
a system of regular reviews or index-linking to such a scheme is
eminently sensible. This is a feature which has been notably absent
from previous schemes.
"It is in the interests of justice to ensure that costs in
legitimate, complex cases are not capped at such a level that they
become unviable to pursue with the support of properly qualified
and experienced legal professionals."
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