Fixed costs extension set to happen in less than a year


MoJ: Some policy issues still under consideration

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) wants the extension of fixed recoverable costs (FRCs) across the fast-track and in most money cases worth up to £100,000 to take effect from October 2022, it has emerged.

Newly published minutes from the November meeting of the Civil Procedure Rule Committee, which was addressed by MoJ civil costs chief Robert Wright, confirmed the intention and that the plan was to redraft part 45 of the CPR, which deals with fixed costs.

When the MoJ said in September that it planned to implement Sir Rupert Jackson’s blueprint for FRCs, it did not announce a timeline.

There had been speculation that the amount of work required would tip implementation over into 2023.

The minutes recorded that “the overall intention is to define the scope and parameters of FRC (and the associated changes), while outlining the new procedures that will ensure cases are appropriately allocated and managed within the new FRC architecture.

“The extension of FRC will enhance access to justice by making recoverable costs more certain and proportionate, while enabling parties in civil proceedings to plan their litigation more effectively.”

Given the complexity of costs-related reforms and how part 45 has expanded over the years, “the policy view is to commence a complete re-draft of [it] to simplify and streamline the rules”.

The minutes said the MoJ was still considering certain policy issues, including whether further changes need to be made in respect of recoverable disbursements and qualified one-way costs shifting, “in order to ensure the integrity of the extended FRC regime”.

The CPRC said this work would not be delayed by the separate and wider review of civil costs being conducted by the Civil Justice Council at the behest of the Master of the Rolls.

Separately, the committee heard that the plan to migrate the online location of the CPR will now not happen until around spring 2023.

The CPR have long been available on the MoJ’s old website but it emerged in February that it was being closed down and transferred to gov.uk, which hosts all government websites.

There were immediate complaints from lawyers, because the new location required far more clicks and knowledge of what the reader was looking for to navigate.

As a result justice minister Lord Wolfson promised to look again at the move and ensure that the rules’ new home would be more user-friendly.

The CPRC minutes from last month said a working group chaired by Mr Justice Pepperall “has been notified of a further extension to the current Justice web site, meaning the revised timeline for migration to gov.uk is now circa spring 2023”.

Other elements that were on the Justice site – certain courts and probation guidance, including daily court lists – have migrated to gov.uk, leaving just the CPR and the Family Procedure Rules.

The committee said it was not clear what this would mean for the Library of Online Practice (LOOP) that it was considering.

This aims to “declutter” the CPR as part of a wider effort to remove from the rules and practice directions “secondary and tertiary material that has accumulated” since their inception in 1999. The LOOP would accommodate it instead.

It was also unknown what retaining the Justice website would have for the Online Procedure Rule Committee, which will be established once the Judicial Review and Courts Bill completes its passage through Parliament.

Meanwhile, the CPRC agreed to digitise the civil process to register a notice of change of legal representation.




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