What Should the Public Know About the Jackson Reforms?

Have you heard of the Jackson Reforms? Although these reforms make a number of important changes to the way civil litigation occurs in the UK, most members of the public have never heard of them. Our own informal surveys have found that very few people are aware of the important changes these reforms make to the law.

If we posed the same question to a crowd of lawyers, we would likely receive a very different answer. Although the general public is largely unaware of the reforms, the legal community has made a number of changes in response to them.

Most lawyers will be able to confidently state that the reforms were implemented in April 2013 as the result of a one-year in-depth review into the costs of civil litigation that become a core tenet of the 2012 Legal Aid, Sentencing, and Punishment of Offenders Act.

The 2012 act has resulted in serious changes to Civil Procedure Rules, with a major effect on the cost of civil litigation in the UK. The rules, which are difficult for many in the legal community to understand – are designed to reduce the cost of litigation.

As many people in the legal community, ranging from solicitors and barristers to a large number of judges, have struggled to understand the laws, it’s not surprising that such as large portion of the general public is also unaware of them.

The Jackson Reforms are important, and understanding them is worthwhile. The reforms have some significant effects on the cost of civil litigation in the UK, and understanding them is an important priority for those interested in the law.

Several areas of the law are affected by the reforms. These include:

  • Public Liability Claims
  • Employers’ Liability
  • Personal Injury (PI)
  • Road Traffic Accidents (RTA)

The key goal of the Jackson Reforms is to reduce the cost of litigation by simplifying and streamlining the process, as well as establishing clearer regulations. This results in benefits for clients in the form of reduced litigation costs and the simplification of the litigation process as a whole.

A key change introduced by the reforms is the prevention of lawyers collecting fees based on success for defendants that lose their cases. Lawyers also cannot collect premiums from after-the-event insurance (ATE) from losing defendants. Instead, lawyers are paid using contingency fees; these fees are a replacement for damage-based awards and CFAs.

Changes have also been made to the scale of success fees for personal injury court cases. Lawyers can now charge a maximum of 25 per cent of the total damages as a success fee, reducing the amount charged to clients. There is also a £50,000 cap on claims from road traffic accidents.

As well as capping the cost of success fees and claims for certain cases, the Jackson Reforms also provide more detailed and stringent rules regarding budgeting. Case budgets now need to be prepared in advance of a case and approved by the court at several stages in the process. This is to make budgets more appropriate to the case and further reduce the cost of litigation.

The Jackson Reforms are interesting not only for their content, but for the time at which they were implemented. The reforms were introduced alongside a serious reduction in the availability of government legal aid. The reforms, of course, have made alternative means of case funding more accessible for many litigants.

Prior to the reforms, there had been significantly less clarity regarding the approval of the courts for litigants to use third party funding. The reforms show that Jackson approves of third-party funding, giving funders a new level of access.

Since many of the claims made by successful litigants are quite large, paying a small percentage of the winnings to third party funders is an expense that many litigants are very willing to make. This is especially true when one considers the alternatives for these litigants; without funding, many would have to drop their claims.

The Jackson Reforms remain fairly new to the legal world, and many solicitors are still receiving education explaining their effects and outlining how best to comply with the new rules. As we watch the reforms evolve over the next few years, we will see their long-term effects for litigants, lawyers and the general public.

This article was written on behalf of Vannin Capital. Visit their website to learn more litigationfunding.com

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