News — The Jackson Report

In December 2009 Lord Justice Jackson, of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales, released the final report in the Review of Civil Litigation Costs in the United Kingdom ("the Jackson Report").

 

The Jackson Report identified, among other things, that the costs of litigation were disproportionate, an impediment to access to justice, and one of the main problems facing the judicial system. For that reason, the Jackson Report recommended widespread reforms aimed at controlling legal costs throughout the United Kingdom.

One suggested reform was to change the way in which contingency fee charges operate. There are a number of possible contingency fee arrangements. The most widely known is the US model, which allows lawyers to charge their clients a fixed percentage of the proceeds of a legal ‘win’. The Jackson Report recommended the English and Welsh jurisdictions follow a similar method of charging. In 2013, changes were implemented throughout the United Kingdom allowing damages based agreements where the lawyers’ remuneration is based on a fixed percentage of the client's 'financial benefit' received in a claim.

In Australia, the US (and now British) model of contingency charging remains illegal. However, more recently, the Productivity Commission released its Access to Justice Arrangements report and has recommended that Australia follow the United Kingdom by introducing a model of contingency fee charging similar to the US model of charging. The change to allow damages based agreements is currently being encouraged as a means of promoting access to justice throughout Australia.