Last updateTue, 24 Feb 2015 5pm

Richard Baker reflects on how practitioners can adapt to preserve access to justice

I was called to the bar in the year 2000. When I started practising, the profession was coming to terms with the ‘new’ civil procedure reforms and with conditional fee agreements, which had been introduced some years before. There were rumblings within the profession that these changes would bring an end to the world as my predecessors knew it; and that access to justice would be impaired because, in selecting those cases to take forward under a conditional fee agreement, the legal profession would only run those cases where there was a guarantee of success and where profit would follow, thus removing access to justice from the poor and vulnerable, who would otherwise have been supported by public funding.

Paul Jones outlines the consequences of improper and unreasonable conduct when serving a bill of costs

The signing of a certificate of accuracy in a bill of costs as required by CPR 47 PD 5.21 is normally a fairly uncontroversial subject. It confirms that the bill is accurate and complies with the indemnity principle and creates a rebuttable presumption to this effect which a paying party will normally struggle to challenge. However, in some cases, the manner in which the receiving party presents their bill of costs and conducts the detailed assessment proceedings can give the paying party such an open goal in challenging the bill’s certification that the final outcome can be near inevitable. The recently released case of Jago v Whitbread Group (2016) is a textbook example of how not to certify a bill of costs or conduct detailed assessment proceedings.

Liam Ryan investigates unintended tragedies and the scope of secondary victims

It is a fact of life that tragedies happen. When confronted by such events, the question that is often faced by personal injury practitioners is to what extent can a defendant be liable for the far-reaching and unpredictable consequences of an act of negligence? Legally the scope of liability is recognised as not being restricted to the actual victim, but is capable of extension beyond the primary victim of an act of negligence. Establishing where to draw the cut-off point has been an issue that the courts have wrestled with for decades however, especially in cases of psychiatric injury where the identification of injury is more complex.

Steven Akerman offers alternatives to the costs proposals being considered in Lord Justice Jackson’s review

In advance of Lord Justice Jackson’s impending review on fixed recoverable costs, I took the pragmatic view that as change is most definitely coming, we, as litigators, may as well try to limit the damage and come up with a realistic alternative to fixed recoverable costs as the current proposals being considered will likely eviscerate access to justice, in my opinion.

Stricter regulations on handling personal data are set to come into force next year. Stephanie Prior reports

It was recently reported that Greater Manchester Police lost three unencrypted DVDs in the royal mail post. The DVDs apparently contained footage of police interviews with victims of sexual and violent crimes. The DVDs were sent in the post by recorded delivery to the National Crime Agency’s Serious Crime Analysis Section but they never arrived. As a consequence Greater Manchester Police were fined £150,000.

Duty of care; A&E; head injury; waiting times

In Darnley v Croydon Health Services NHS Trust [2017] the court looked at what, if any, duty is owed by a receptionist of an A&E department to a patient in respect of the provision of information. By a majority it was held that no duty is owed to provide correct information about waiting times.

Paul Sankey investigates a decision in the Court of Appeal after it had applied the Montgomery test

The recent decision in Webster v Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust [2017] is significant as the first Court of Appeal judgment applying the new law in relation to a doctor’s duty to advise, as set out by the Supreme Court in Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board [2015].

After the discount rate cut, Paul Jones predicts increased legal disputes over interest on legal costs

While the legal and insurance professions come to terms with the slashing of the discount rate from 2.5% to -0.75%, the issue of interest rates on legal costs, while much less of a headline grabber, continues to be an important consideration for costs practitioners. Indeed, while the discount rate now languishes in the negative and the special account rate is not much better at 0.5%, the interest rate for legal costs judgments remains at a very healthy 8% where it has been since 1 April 1993. So how did this huge differential come to pass and what are its effects?