Jackson Reforms implementation date – April 2013
The Jackson reforms will become law in April 2013 under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment Offenders Act. The reforms will be the most significant changes to civil law since the Woolf reforms in the late 1990s. The reforms basically curb ‘no win no fee’ claims meaning lawyers will not be able to recover fees and costs and in cases of personal injury the fees for success will be capped at 25%. Furthermore, damages are to increase by a tenth.
By cutting success fees and other factor costs, solicitors who usually take personal injury cases may be deterred from taking them after April 2013. This is because solicitors may be paid less than they previously where receiving or if worst come to worst, they may not even be paid at all. This is where some criticism of the reforms stems from.
For example, a less financially stable client may not be able to gain redress for the wrong done against them for two reasons. The client may be forced to use a less qualified, ‘2nd class’ solicitor who is only taking up their case out of desperation. By not having access to the typical standard of solicitor, the genuine claimant is at lower chance of winning the case. In another scenario, the client may not take their case to court out of fear of having to pay lawyer fees if they lose in court. The client might then not pursue redress. In both, the reforms may be seen as preventing access to justice for the client.
In contrast, with success fees being capped at 25%, clients’ whose cases are successful retain more of their damages on top of the 10% increase in damages.
The reforms seem to be a double edged knife, with many clients being put at a disadvantage, those who are successful however will be better compensated than in previous times.