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ACSO responds to the Civil Justice Council (CJC) Costs Working Group consultation

Posted on Thu, 13/10/2022

ACSO have responded to the consultation on costs recently published by the CJC. In preparation, ACSO also attended their conference in London in July and their most recent webinars in October. 

The consultation itself was broad and purposefully without a description of the post-consultation intentions of the CJC. Instead, they made it clear that this consultation is an invitation for feedback on four intrinsic costs-related civil justice matters, those being: 

  • Costs budgeting;
  • Guideline hourly rates;
  • Pre-action protocol and digital portal related costs; and
  • Fixed Recoverable Costs and the impact of their extension. 

In the most recent webinar, for instance, Lord Justice Birss confirmed that, even if the respondents opinion on one matter is that it works perfectly and should remain entirely untouched, this will still be valuable insight.

As a result, the consultation is left open ended, despite the importance of the matter to consumers and to our member organisations. We have no clear roadmap for the post-consultation review, and no timescales regarding a response. 

Aside from the above uncertainty of outcome, we commend this exercise. We especially support the CJC focus on vulnerability, digitisation and the economic impact of extending fixed costs. The consultation-linked events helped to draw out these familiar to ACSO and our work to the further attention of government bodies and committees. Such themes included the need for an appropriate adjustment process for existing and extended fixed costs and guideline hourly rates, the need to tackle the extent of court backlogs and the benefits in encouraging appropriate alternative dispute resolution pre and post-commencement of court litigation. 

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