By: 27 March 2024
APIL withdraws judicial review proceedings following government concessions

Government concessions on the extension of fixed recoverable costs (FRCs) in personal injury cases have prompted APIL to withdraw judicial review proceedings against the Lord Chancellor.

“Issuing proceedings against the government is never something APIL, as a not-for-profit campaigning organisation, undertakes lightly,” said APIL president Jonathan Scarsbrook. “But the rules as originally drafted were potentially so damaging for injured people seeking redress that we had no choice but to take action.

“There was significant concern surrounding a lack of clarity about when FRCs might be applied to clinical negligence cases, for example. There was a real risk a solicitor would have to undertake a great deal of work on a case, only to find at a late stage that fixed costs are applied which would not cover the costs of the work undertaken.

“The outcome of the consultation which followed our judicial review alleviated this situation, and most of our other concerns,” he continued “and the government’s subsequent commitment to consult on the impact of the rules surrounding vulnerable parties is very welcome.

 

What happens now?

Amendments to rules due to come into effect next month now mean that costs will be available for dealing with inquests and for restoring companies to the companies register. In a further concession, the amended rules make it clear that clinical negligence claims will only be subject to FRCs in the new intermediate track if liability is admitted, in full, in the defendant’s formal response to the letter of claim.

The government has also confirmed that it was not its intention to reverse current case law, which allows parties to contract out of FRCs when there is a dispute in settlement agreements, in favour of agreeing that costs will be subject to detailed assessment.

All these issues formed key parts of APIL’s legal challenge. In response to the final aspect of that challenge, the government has committed to carry out a formal consultation on the impact of the rules on vulnerable parties by no later than October 2026.

“The timeframe for that consultation allows for the gathering of evidence, although we will be vigilant about this issue in the meantime, and alert to any need to intervene in an ongoing case if necessary and appropriate.

“We have come a long way and a lot has happened since our letter before action was sent to the government on 7 July last year, and I am grateful for the ongoing support of our members,” said Mr Scarsbrook. “I am confident that the action has delivered the right outcome for injured people and the solicitors who support them, and will therefore have a positive impact in terms of rebuilding lives shattered by negligence.”

 

Image: Canva.
Emma Cockings
Emma is a content editor for Claims Media. Emma is a experienced writer with a background in client-centric personal injury for a major firm. She has attended and reported on multiple brokerage events throughout her career.