Former head of the Technology and Construction Court Lord Justice Jackson has called for reforms to curb the “explosion” of litigation over costs issues.
Lord Justice Jackson - who presided over the long-running Wembley Stadium litigation process – suggested the introduction of fixed recoverable costs.
In his preliminary report for the first in-depth inquiry into civil litigation costs in a decade, he also mooted introducing cost sanctions on witness statements and pleadings, saying: “One of the banes of TCC litigation is duplication of documents.”
His 650-page report presented a damning picture of a system beset by soaring legal fees disproportionate to the damages recouped by claimants.
He said: “There has been an explosion of litigation about costs issues, which has added a further layer to the costs of litigation.”
Lord Justice Jackson spent years presiding over the Multiplex and Cleveland Bridge Wembley saga in which costs totalled more than £22 million and, he said, neither side “gained any significant financial benefit”.
Dundas & Wilson partner Hamish Lal said the construction sector would be especially interested in a proposal that pre-action process should only start after a claim form was issued.
Mr Lal said: “The biggest carrot is the fact that the costs incurred by both the parties become part of the costs of the action.”
Currently pre-action costs are ordinarily irrecoverable and it is believed the plan to change this will garner strong industry support.
Consultation on the report will run until 31 July.