Civil Justice Council Cost Consultation – Law Society Response

As civil justice enters a new digital era, the Civil Justice Council (CJC) is seeking high-level views on multiple areas of civil court fee reform.

Focusing on access to justice, the CJC Task Force takes a strategic and holistic look at costs, including:

  • cost budgeting
  • indicative hourly rates (GHR)
  • pre-action protocols and digital justice system
  • wider consequences of extending recoverable fixed costs

Read the consultation

Proposals

At this stage, no specific proposal has been put forward.

The questions relate to the following areas.

Cost budgeting

  • Is cost budgeting useful?
  • What changes, if any, should be made to the current cost budgeting regime?
  • Should cost budgeting be abandoned?
  • If cost budgeting is retained, should it be done on a “default on” or “default off” basis?
  • For cases that continue under the cost budgeting regime, should any high-level changes be made to the procedural requirements or the general approach?

Indicative hourly rates (GHR)

  • What is or should be the purpose of HRGs?
  • Have or should GHRs play a broader role than their current role as a starting point in cost assessments?
  • What would be the wider impact of abandoning GHRs?
  • Should GHRs be adjusted over time, and if so, how?
  • Are there alternatives to the current GHR methodology?

Pre-action protocols and digital justice

  • What are the civil justice cost implications of digitizing dispute resolution?
  • What is the cost impact of pre-action protocols and portals?
  • Is there a need to reform processes for assessing costs when a claim is settled before issuance, including attorney’s own client’s costs and inter-party costs?
  • What is the current distinction between contentious and non-contentious cases? Should it be kept?

The extension of recoverable fixed costs

  • What impact do the changes to recoverable fixed costs have on the issues already raised?
  • Are there other cost issues arising from the extension of recoverable fixed costs, including other areas where some form of fixed costs or cost cap system might be worth considering?
  • Should an expanded form of cost cap be introduced for particular specialist areas (such as patent cases or the shorter trial regime more generally)?

To be involved

The CJC would like to hear:

  • civil law practitioners
  • other interested stakeholders
  • those who have data to support new ideas

Email your comments to [email protected] by Friday 9 September, and we will consider your views in our response to the consultation.

Alternatively, you can respond directly to the CJC before 12 p.m. on Friday, September 30.

Next steps

The consultation closes on September 30, 2022.

Responses to the consultation will inform a report by the Civil Justice Council, which is expected by the end of 2022.