Costs lawyers have said that they are in a period of expansion to meet budgeting demands, according to a survey conducted by the Association of Costs Lawyers (ACL).
ACL has sought the views of its members on the impact of the Jackson reforms and found that 59% of them have expanded their practices since April 2013.
Almost three-quarters of respondents also said that the demand for costs budgeting had increased significantly in the past year, with 52% expecting a similar rise over the next 12 months. Nearly half expected the number of costs lawyers to have increased in three years’ time.
Asked how the budgeting regime was working, two-thirds said it had brought costs lawyers’ skills to the fore.
“The results vindicate what we have been saying for some time – that the skills of costs lawyers are a vital part of the mix if solicitors want to make the best of the budgeting regime," said ACL chairman Sue Nash.
"Our range of abilities make us an integral part of the litigation team as solicitors, barristers and costs lawyers work together to progress proceedings in an efficient and proportionate manner.”
In the same survey last year, 71% of costs lawyers predicted that the Jackson reforms would discourage solicitors from taking on less straightforward cases, and this year some 30% said it had actually happened. In addition, nearly half of respondents last year expected the reforms to discourage claims, but the 2014 poll found that only 23% of costs lawyers said they had had that effect.
“While the results show that the Jackson reforms have not damaged civil litigants’ access to justice as much as had been feared, they also emphasise that there is no room for complacency.
"It is clear that some claimants are being turned away from seeking justice, and it is the responsibility of all of us to ensure that the system adapts to ensure that all of those with a valid claim have the support to bring it,” added Nash.