The Provisional Assessment Pilot, under which the court provisionally assesses costs up to £25,000, has been a success, according to Lord Justice Jackson.
He is recommending that the procedure be incorporated into the Civil Procedure Rules so that it is provided at all civil court centres.
Despite the fact few solicitors completed feedback questionnaires – four firms were more likely to use it, one was less likely and seven said ‘about the same’ – there were indications of demand from among the profession for provisional assessment.
Jackson LJ identified six reasons for the pilot’s success. These were that the process is quick and simple, it might generate fee income for the courts, it can provide a fair outcome for parties, it can be cheaper than traditional assessment, informal feedback has been positive, and it saves court time because the assessment takes 40 minutes rather than half a day.
The pilot concluded its first year in September 2011 but has been continued for a second year. The system has been used successfully in Hong Kong since 1999.