Costs News

03 February 2022
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News in brief - 03.02.2022

New Council members

Stephen Averill, managing director of Phoenix Legal Services in Cardiff, and Stephanie Donald, a senior associate at Hill Dickinson in Liverpool, have been confirmed as the new members of the ACL Council.

A reminder too that nominations for the role of chair close at 5pm on Monday 7 February. To nominate yourself or learn more about the role, contact enquiries@costslawyer.co.uk.

 

Pure Legal Costs enters administration

Liverpool-based Pure Legal Costs Consultants Ltd was put into administration last week, with John Noon and Paul Flint of Alvarez & Marsal appointed joint administrators.

Last October, eight businesses in the wider Pure Business Group, including Connect Costs and Pure Costs Budgets, were put into administration. At the time, the Costs Lawyer Standards Board register listed eight Costs Lawyers as working at Pure Legal Costs Consultants; as of yesterday, there were two.

 

Government consults on fixed costs for low-value clinical negligence cases

The government’s long-awaited proposals for fixed recoverable costs (FRC) in low-value clinical negligence cases were published this week, largely following the blueprint drafted by a Civil Justice Council (CJC) working party in 2019.

Aimed only at pre-issue costs at this stage, the Department of Health and Social Care estimated the changes would save £454m over 10 years.

The main decision for the government was over the level of fees: the claimant and defendant representatives on the CJC working party agreed changes to speed up the process of such claims, but not the level of FRC. They instead published their respective figures for the government to consider.

The consultation paper said: “It is our considered view that the costs proposed by the defendant group represent the most reasonable assessment of the work involved at each stage of the streamlined processes designed by the CJC, whilst protecting the access to justice of claimants and furthering the common goal of rapid resolution.”

For the standard-track process – from letter of claim to mandatory early neutral examination – the government has put forward a fee of £6,000 plus 20% of the damages; the CJC claimants had recommended £8,000 plus 40%.

For the light-track claims – where liability is not in dispute – the proposed £2,000 plus 10% of damages contrasts with the £4,500 plus 30% suggested by the CJC claimants.

The new system would apply to cases that fall into the fast-track, although it would exclude claims requiring more than two liability experts, claims with “genuine” multiple defendants, claims involving stillbirths or neonatal deaths, and claims where limitation was at issue.

Protected parties would remain in the scheme, with a suggested additional bolt-on fee of £650.

No date of implementation is identified, but the new regime would apply to all claims made after then irrespective of when the injury occurred.

The Department of Health and Social Care said there would be a post-implementation review within five years which would also look at whether to extend FRC to the post-issue phase.

It estimated that up to 15% of claims – or up to 3,000 claims per year from 2022/23 onwards – may no longer start court proceedings as a result of the scheme.

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