In April 2013 the personal injury market in England and Wales changed dramatically after the implementation of the Jackson reforms. The UK Government, who govern the legal system in England and Wales, implemented reforms to civil litigation funding and costs.
- The reforms are in force across civil litigation, with a particular emphasis on personal injury cases where no win, no fee conditional fee agreements (CFA) are used extensively. Below is a brief summary of those key changes:
- Previously a no win, no fee agreement CFA would enable the solicitor to claim back a success fee and the cost of insurance premiums from the defendant. The changes allow for a CFA agreement to be used, but whilst their basic costs and expenses are payable by the defendant, the success fee and insurance premiums are no longer.
- The success fee previously recovered from the defendant can now be taken from the clients damages. The amount is capped at 25% of the damages recovered, but not including the damages for future care and loss.
- The amount of damages awarded for non-pecuniary loss such as loss of amenity, pain and suffering has increased by 10%.
- A new qualified one way cost shifting (QOCS) regime is in place. Claimants who are unsuccessful are protected from having to pay the defendant’s costs if their claims are conducted in accordance with the QOCS rules whilst still being paid their costs by their opponent.
- A fixed recoverable costs system is now in place to standardise the costs process for claims up to £25,000.
- Buying in case loads through the use of referral fees is now banned.
The transition from the old to new rules has meant that the Hugh James Personal Injury Team based in Cardiff, South Wales, required extensive training before the reforms were imposed to ensure that our lawyers were fully aware of the new rules and procedures.
Mark Harvey, an American Association of Justice member, is a partner at Hugh James and heads the personal injury division. Mark has recently been asked by the Master of the Rolls to work with a group of lawyers in monitoring the civil justice reforms and advising the government on their impact and any recommended changes.