Jackson sets out scaled-back plan to extend fixed recoverable costs

The judicial costs guru laid out plans to extend fixed recoverable costs (FRC) for some cases worth up to £250,000, but his proposals did not go far as he had previously indicated.

In a supplemental report to his initial 2010 version, Lord Justice Jackson suggested introducing FRC for all fast track cases and a new intermediate track for certain claims up to £100,000.

He recommended a voluntary pilot of a ‘capped costs’ regime for business and property cases up to £250,000, with streamlined procedures and capped recoverable costs up to £80,000, as well as measures to limit recoverable costs in judicial review cases.

For clinical negligence claims he proposed that the Department of Health and the Civil Justice Council set up a working party with claimant and defendant representatives to develop a bespoke process for handling clinical negligence claims up to £25,000, with a grid of FRC.

Putting forward his proposals, Jackson said: ‘I have sought to balance the many competing interests in terms of access to justice and proportionality of costs.’

He said he was ‘bound to accept’ that improvements in costs management had ‘eliminated any need to develop FRC on the scale canvassed’ in a lecture he gave in 2016, in which he mooted FRCs for all civil cases worth up to £250,000.

Nevertheless, he added: ‘The possibility remains of substantially extending FRC in the future, if the costs management process either fails to deliver effective control over costs or becomes unduly expensive.’

Commenting, Bar Chair Andrew Langdon QC said the review indicated that Jackson has ‘listened carefully to the views of the legal profession and accepted proposals from the Bar Council and others that multi track cases are so varied in character that they do not lend themselves to any rigid costs matrix, and that cost management is working better than had been supposed’.

He said the review ‘correctly, steers away from extending FRC up to £250,000’ and ‘encouragingly’ proposes a grid of recoverable fees that include ring-fencing fees for counsel or other specialist lawyers in more complex fast track cases and for intermediate track cases, including for trial advocacy.

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