David Johnson, the President of the Forum of Insurance Lawyers (FOIL) has said that he does not believe that access to justice has been impeded by the Jackson reforms, but says that uncertainties around the changes to civil litigation need to be ironed out as soon as possible.
Johnson said that the current review of the reforms needed to focus on pre-action costs and case management. He said both areas represented a "blind spot" when it came to keeping claims proportionate in terms of cost. He also said that more time was needed before the effectiveness of the reforms could be evaluated.
“We still have yet to see how the introduction of QOCS (qualified one-way costs shifting) will work in practice," he said. "It is important that the QOCS rules are interpreted in a way that gives teeth to the fundamentally dishonest exception and thus serve to discourage spurious and exaggerated claims.
"The current uncertainties around DBAs need to be ironed out and I welcome the suggestion that these will see positive developments there in the not too distant future. FOIL also welcomes the suggestion that there will be a further review of the reforms in or around 2016,” he added.
FOIL has also appointed Sean McGahan and Leonard Edgar as Northern Ireland representatives to its executive committee.
Sean McGahan is Head of Litigation Risk at McKinty & Wright and Leonard Edgar is a partner at John McKee & Son Solicitors.
Laurence Besemer, chief executive of FOIL said that both McGahan and Edgar had extensive experience of advising clients on the risk of complex litigation in Northern Ireland.
"We are confident they will be as effective in helping us ensure the defendant insurance law voice is heard in Northern Ireland,” he said.