The campaign against the civil litigation reforms proposed by LJ Jackson received a boost recently after the response by three cost judges to the Green Paper was revealed by the Access to Justice Action Group (AJAG).
According to the Law Society Gazette the judges, “have broken ranks to object to radical reform of civil litigation” and were “unable to agree with the majority view of the costs judges”.
Backed by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), the reforms include proposals to end the recoverability of success fees and After-the-Event (ATE) premiums, cap success fees at 25% of compensation awarded and increase general damages by just 10%. ARAG, AJAG, the Consumer Justice Alliance (CJA) and many others believe that such changes will significantly reduce access to justice and it seems the cost judges agree.
Describing many of the proposals as “inappropriate”, the judges have said in their response, “claimants who have suffered serious medical injuries could lose thousands of pounds intended to pay for their care”. They go onto say that it is often the conduct of the defendant that increases costs, so shifting the payment of success fees and ATE premiums to the claimant will cause “injustice”.
For ARAG and other legal expenses insurers who believe that ATE insurance helps access to justice as well as reduce costs by rooting out unmeritorious claims, a further comment describing the reforms on ATE as having “gone much too far” is a welcome one.
As pointed out in a Legal Futures article “the fact that important voices in the judiciary have such serious doubts about the reforms will give campaigners heart.” The fight continues!