The Bar Council also notes with great interest Lord Justice Jackson’s provisional view (see page 172, paragraph 5.5 in the report) on ‘no win no fee’ agreements. The Bar Council recognises that these agreements can provide enhanced access to justice but believes there is scope for reform and improvement. The report’s eventual recommendations will be of great interest to those outside of the legal profession including those in publishing, insurance and healthcare. Commenting on the publication of the Preliminary Report by Lord Justice Jackson, Michael Todd QC, Chair of the Bar Council Jackson Working Group, said:

‘The Working Group will consider the issues raised in the report and produce a draft response for the Bar Council which commands the widest possible support from practitioners across the civil field. I note that Lord Justice Jackson has focused on questions relating to cost shifting, fixed costs, personal injury claims, controlling the costs of ‘heavy’ litigation, CFAs and ATE insurance, and alternative methods of funding access to civil justice. We are concerned that the ever-increasing costs burden of civil litigation results in a denial of access to justice for the many people who cannot afford those costs. That is clearly not in the public interest.’ Desmond Browne QC, the Chairman of the Bar, said: ‘It comes as no surprise that Lord Justice Jackson’s interim report is an impressive piece of work, reflecting his intensive investigation in recent months of the issue of legal costs and access to justice in civil proceedings. His report reflects practice both at home and around the globe.

The Bar Council has long been concerned that civil costs are kept both reasonable and proportionate. We will be making every effort to help Lord Justice Jackson ensure that our civil law system serves its users as cost-effectively as possible, whilst maintaining the quality of adjudication for which this jurisdiction is rightly famed.

Public funding for civil cases is now unavailable in many areas. Very careful consideration therefore needs to be given to the means whereby meritorious litigants are assured of the access to justice which they deserve.’