COURTS GRANT THEMSELVES RELIEF FROM SANCTIONS
The Judicial Office has agreed to Lord Justice Jackson’s request that there be a temporary break in costs budgeting in clinical negligence cases.
Its statement in July 2015 read:-
“As a temporary measure, to clear a backlog of cases, the Queen’s Bench Masters responsible for the case management of clinical negligence cases are exercising this discretion in relation to cases listed before them between October 2015 and January 2016. This approach will be kept under review.”
The discretion referred to was described by the Judicial Office in the same statement in these terms:-
“The court has a standing discretion to dis-apply the costs budgeting/management provisions in individual cases”.
Quite how a blanket ban on costs budgeting in all cases for three months comes under a discretion “to disapply the costs budgeting/management provisions in individual cases” is beyond me.
Lord Justice Jackson himself had said that the nine month waiting time for a first Case Management Conference was “unacceptable” and risked undermining his reforms.
This decision has not met with universal approval. Unkind commentators have pointed out that this was precisely the type of issue – heavy workload, ups and downs of litigation – which was rejected by the Court of Appeal as an excuse in the Mitchell case.
It is also apparent to all that costs budgeting has increased, not decreased, costs.
One is tempted to agree with a person who said that Jackson’s reforms cannot cope with reality and so reality must be altered to fit the reforms.