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The foreword to Lord Justice Jackson’s review sums up its findings and recommendations with impressive brevity: “In some areas of civil litigation, costs are disproportionate and impede access to justice. I therefore propose a coherent package of interlocking reforms, designed to control costs and promote access to justice.”
This is the key to Jackson’s proposals – that they work as a cohesive package that will only achieve the overall aim if they are implemented in full. A piecemeal approach in which certain aspects are introduced whilst other elements are discarded or delayed will not deliver Jackson’s vision of effective reform.
The government is now in the process of implementing the reforms, but Lord Justice Jackson’s statement back in 2009 belies the complexity of the process involved. Implementing the reforms calls for the introduction of primary legislation as well as a series of changes to judicial rules and policies.
The legislative changes that the LASPO Act brings in will take effect from April 2013, and there is still much to achieve in the next 12 months if the complete package is to be implemented in a cohesive way.
This challenge is further compounded by the political and social importance of the reforms, which are almost certainly a ‘generational’ change, in that once they have been implemented it is unlikely that they will be re-visited for some years to come.
There is therefore, every reason to try and get them right first time.
This is true both for those in need of redress and for those who pay for the system – the insurance premium payer, council tax and business rates payers, taxpayers and for all consumers of goods and services where the cost of the current system is reflected.
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