The Lord Chancellor announced that fixed recoverable costs (FRC regime) are to be extended to all cases in the fast track (valued up to £25,000) and, via a new regime, to ‘less complex’ claims valued between £25,000 and £100,000 (intermediate cases).
Cases will be ranked into complexity bands, with the fast track expanded to include ‘intermediate’ track cases, and Judges will be asked to exercise their discretion to ensure that these are properly allocated.
The announcement to extend fixed recoverable legal costs has been met by opposition from a number of groups including the Law Society and APIL.
Opposition to the fixed recoverable costs extension
The Law Society and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) have responded negatively to the plans to extend the use of fixed recoverable costs. Stephanie Boyce, President of the Law Society has urged the government to reconsider their plans to extend the use of fixed costs in civil cases as it would reduce access to justice for many vulnerable claimants.
Boyce stated the following in response to the extension:-
“If the government caps the amount of reasonable costs a claimant can recover then – without safeguards – a deep-pocketed and unscrupulous party could force their opponent to run up legal bills they’ll never recover.
“This could seriously damage the justice system, leaving claimants unable to obtain effective remedy or vindicated defendants out of pocket through no fault of their own.”
She further stated that the legal system had been “reshaped” by the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the Court reform programme amongst a number of other changes since Lord Justice Jackson’s 2017 report, on which the new changes are based.
Claire Green from APIL held a similar view and questioned whether the fixed costs extension provides “genuine access to justice and allow a party to conduct litigation effectively, or do they only work for the privileged few who can afford to pay for litigation irrespective of what they recover from an opponent?”
Matthew Scott from the Association of Consumer Support quoted Lord Justice Jackson by stating:-
“If the costs are too high, people cannot afford lawyers. If the costs are too low, there will not be any lawyers doing the work.”
Scott also stated that he was not surprised the the Government had decided to implement the extension.
How can R&R Solutions assist?
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