lady justice

ACSO responds to the Civil Procedure Rule Committee (CPRC) consultation on Qualified One-Way Costs Shifting (QOCS) and vulnerability

Posted on Mon, 27/06/2022

The Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO) has responded to the Civil Procedure Rule Committee (CPRC) consultation on Qualified One-Way Costs Shifting (QOCS) and vulnerability. 

Matthew Maxwell Scott, executive director of ACSO says: "While QOCS disapplication and costs set-off at surface level only impacts those who bring claims without any merit, or that are fundamentally dishonest, the proposed changes could increase the value proposition of ATE insurance policies and cause many injured claimants to lose damages to uncapped deductions for policy premiums. 

"Additionally, increasing the financial jeopardy for consumers when bringing a claim is likely to result in widespread under-settlement of injury claims. Consumers, no longer able to take the financial risk to proceed with a case when in receipt of a very low Part 36 settlement offer, are much more likely to accept a sum that insufficiently compensates them for their losses. 

"ACSO is also surprised that no impact assessment has been released on the effect these changes would have on the ATE and Before The Event (BTE) insurance markets, given their insurable risk would manifestly increase as the potential for client losses increase."

Regarding vulnerability, Maxwell Scott continues: "ACSO considers that the new FRC proposals are already very limiting in terms of cost recoverability for consumers of civil justice, and intentionally so. With that in mind, the risk to consumers when setting an 'additional work' threshold is that for most vulnerable consumers there will be insufficient potential costs provision to allow their representative to commit additional, non-chargeable resource to their case. This leaves many vulnerable consumers under-represented and in a poor position. 

"ACSO is of the view that there should be a sliding scale of vulnerability uplift for those consumers who can evidence that their vulnerability has created additional legal work which is assessed as reasonable by the courts."

ACSO members can read our full submission on the members' area of the website.