The majority of the ‘Jackson’ reforms to costs and civil procedure were implemented in April 2013, including the introduction of Qualified One-way Cost Shifting (QOCS) to protect claimants against adverse cost risks in personal injury claims.
Access to justice is one of the touchstones of the reforms, with QOCS ensuring access by protecting losing injured claimants against paying costs in most instances. Its underlying rationale lies in the asymmetry of the relationship between the private claimant and the ‘repeat’ defendant and often, in reality, its insurer.
The reforms have been monitored by practitioner stakeholders as well as some being tested before the judiciary. The Ministry of Justice announced last year that it would conduct a more formal review some time before April 2018.
The Civil Justice Council has examined other types of claim that might potentially be suited to QOCS protection. Its report, published today, concludes that there is a good case in principle for costs protection similar to QOCS being extended to claims made against the police. It also recognises that there is at least an arguable case for such protection also applying to claims in negligence made against solicitors following the failure of a personal injury claim.
In both types of case, however, the CJC report points out the difficulty in obtaining evidence of the likely impacts of such changes and it emphasises that any developments here would, of course, need to be initiated by consultation led by the Ministry of Justice.
BLM’s Alistair Kinley chaired the CJC Working Group which prepared the report and said:
“QOCS moderates the normal ‘loser pays’ rule of costs in order to promote access to justice. It appears to be well understood in injury claims. We have set out arguments in principle which, if taken forward after consultation and impact assessments, could see it extended to other cases, particularly to claims made by individuals against the police.”
Click here to access the full report.