I don’t mean Claimants or Defendants. Nor do I wish to touch upon the whole access to justice issue that has had an abundance of coverage, some of which has provided excellent analysis.
From a purely “employee benefit” perspective, which area has benefited from the reforms? We know that Claimant litigators/fee earners have borne the brunt of the reforms. With a reduction in the level of costs that can be recovered for the usual “run of the mill” Claimant RTA and EL/PL cases, such fee earners will have, probably, experienced at best a pay freeze, and at worst an unwanted and unfortunate end of a role.
Defendant litigators/fee earners will also have suffered; less claims being made means less claims needing to be defended. Insurers will no doubt have adopted a commercial strategy and dealt with claims in house without thee need for them to be outsourced to panel solicitors, no doubt leading to Defendant litigators/fee earners suffering a similar fate to that of their Claimant peers.
But there is, in my view, one specialist profession of the claims process that surely has seen some benefit. I very much suspect that this is the area of costs.
Gone are the days when fee earners would happily pass their files to costs draftsman for them to deal with the perceived mundane tasks of dealing with Notices of Commencement and Points of Dispute.
With the advent of costs budgeting and the inevitable tactical and strategic planning that is required as early at the Directions stage, there has surely never been a better time to be a costs draftsman?
I know from my experience of private practice that, when costs followed the event, it was difficult to muster the enthusiasm to deal with costs when such matters could be easily outsourced for someone else to deal with the procedure. All I cared about was how much I was going to receive to meet a target.
But those days are gone. With the ever increasing focus on the issue of costs, this could finally be the time of the costs draftsman extraordinaire.
It will be interesting to see how law firms adapt to this change. Many defendant firms have for some time had a specialist costs department. These are now increasing. But what will the claimant firms do? Will they now wish to take on the financial liability of bringing costs in house in order to exercise a greater degree of control over their income stream? Only time will tell.
The area of costs is now an ever increasing interest given the implications of poor revenue recovery. It will be an interesting time to see of the costs draftsman will be the real winners of the Jackson reforms.