In his report on costs in civil litigation cases, Lord Justice Jackson was extremely critical of delays caused by solicitors/file handlers acting in these cases, stating that the courts had simply become too tolerant of delays and non-compliance with court orders.
As a result, the rules governing Case Management have now been recast within The Civil Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2013.
Rule 3.9 details the criteria a court must consider where application is made to the court for relief from sanction as a result of non-compliance after 1st April 2013. The Rule now simply states that the court will consider all of the circumstances of the case, so as to enable it to deal justly with the application, including the need (a) for litigation to be conducted efficiently and at a proportionate cost, (b) to enforce compliance with rules, practice directions and orders and (c) an application for relief must be supported by evidence.
The overriding objective now also includes the requirement for courts to deal with cases justly and at a proportionate cost, and to enforce compliance with rules, practice directions and orders.
It has taken some months to ascertain how the judiciary would deal with the new regime. It is clear now that they have adopted a no-nonsense and considerably more rigorous approach. As a result, an incompetent solicitor/file handler will simply find little sympathy or leeway where they have failed to comply with orders and dragged their feet on a case. A court being much more willing to penalise, with orders striking out a case or imposing fairly stringent criteria to rectify an error.
So what impact does this have on an injured Claimant? Quite simply their case will suffer at the hands of such incompetence, and in turn, the end point of their claim will certainly fall short of what was expected. Review My Claim deals specifically with this issue, where a representative has mishandled a case they are obliged to advise their client of the mistake. In these cases, a claim can be made against the representative for the compensation that they would have received if the mistake had not been made.
As time now passes I hasten to say that more of these cases will come to the forefront and a light will be shone on those who are dealing with cases in an inadequate and inopportune fashion. The so-called personal injury factories who hold themselves out as legal representatives providing sound advice and a high level of expertise will be exposed.
Of course, Review My Claim will continue to help these victims.
It can also assist on those cases where a solicitor's incompetence has gone one step further and a case has been settled prematurely for an under-valuation.
It is essential that all victims receive proper service, advice and a deserved outcome with regards to their claim and therefore I can only welcome the reforms which will go some way to take the well needed stand on incompetence.Back to Blog