Lord Justice Jackson, who has previously strongly advocated a blanket extension of fixed costs, has insisted that he will lead a new review of fixed recoverable costs ‘with an open mind’. 

Lord Justice Jackson is to lead a new review of fixed recoverable costs, HM Judiciary has announced. Commissioned by the lord chief justice and master of the rolls, the review will take forward the government’s commitment – outlined in September – to a new costs regime.

Although the momentum is heavily for reform, the review will provide ample opportunity for comments and submissions on the form and scope that reform should take,’ said Jackson.

‘I am inviting the views of practitioners, users of the civil courts and any other interested parties on these points. Seminars will be held in London and elsewhere to discuss the issues. There is a great deal to be done on the detail of the review, which will inform the government as it prepares proposals for formal consultation in due course.’

The terms of reference state that proposals will ensure the costs of going to court are ‘more certain, transparent and proportionate for litigants’.

It will consider the types and areas of litigation in which such costs should be extended, and the value of claims to which such a regime should apply.

After inviting written evidence or submissions to assist the review, Jackson told a London Common Law and Commercial Bar Association event last night that he must now ‘listen very carefully’ to the submissions he receives and ‘carefully examine’ the evidence respondents choose to lodge.

Jackson told the event that he has appointed a panel of 13 assessors, including two economists.

He said: ‘I have got to consider how high the regime of fixed costs should go, what figure, what categories of case it should apply to, what about judicial reviews… I will need to consider how we deal with disbursements. The bar [is] a major disbursement, expert fees as well.

‘How should they be accommodated in a fixed costs regime? There is a great deal of detail to be worked out. I shall consider very carefully the evidence which comes in.’

Jackson said not all his assessors were sympathetic to his proposals, adding that ‘all points of view’ would be represented by them.

He told the event: ‘I hope and believe introducing a regime of fixed costs for a raft of cases above the fast-track will promote access to justice and will be of benefit to the wider community – a view I have always expressed. But I shall approach all of your submissions and observations with an open mind.’

Written evidence and submissions must be sent by Monday 16 January. Jackson will publish his recommendations on 31 July. A government consultation will follow.