The Jackson Five
Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Commercial Litigation Association Manchester Regional Seminar entitled "After the Revolution whither Napoleon?" I was there as a panelist alongside His Honour Judge Bird of the Manchester Mercantile Court.
His Honour made it clear that the Manchester Mercantile Judiciary respects the local legal practice and is willing to listen.
"We appreciate that there are areas of litigation, especially disclosure, which we have not dealt with," he said. "We have the parameters of proportionality, but if you tell us it will take a certain amount of time, we will listen to you. We have a great deal of regard for the way solicitors do things in this city."
Civil Procedure Rule 44.3(5) provides for five factors by which to determine the proportionality of costs. According to HHJ Bird, these have been affectionately described by some litigators as the "Jackson Five":
(5) Costs incurred are proportionate if they bear a reasonable relationship to: (a) the sums in issue in the proceedings; (b) the value of any non-monetary relief in issue in the proceedings; (c) the complexity of the litigation; (d) any additional work generated by the conduct of the paying party; and (e) any wider factors involved in the proceedings, such as reputation or public importance.
His Honour said that judges would take seriously any new rules arising out of the implementation of the Jackson Reforms. "We now have 1.5 Mercantile judges in Manchester. Judicial resource is scarce." He said that this necessarily impacts the way judges will look at things and that he is committed to making sure that the Jackson Reforms are effective. He went on to say , "the Judiciary has a big part to play in ensuring the Jackson Reforms work. The local practitioners have a great deal of responsibility as well." In terms of cost budgeting, hopefully lawyers will not need to seek help of the Court most of the time: "Our hope is that costs budgets will be agreed. Once they are agreed, there is not much we can do."
Revolutionary? Perhaps not but nevertheless fascinating. Despite not being the official opinion of the Court, it is always interesting to hear the opinions of individual judges. In addition to HHJ Bird, I would like to thank Tony Guise and Mark Beaumont of the Commercial Litigation Association for organising the event and leading the panel discussion, and Jeff Lewis, head of litigation in the Manchester office of Brabners for hosting the event and contributing his views as the President of the Manchester Law Society Council and Deputy District Judge.