The price of justice

In the Guardian today, Marcel Berlins is delighted with the Jackson Report, expecting it to drive down legal costs – of civil litigation, anyway. Maybe it will, but I think he is unfair on lawyers.

OK: legal costs are high; I don’t dispute that. However, to say they are disproportionate is, often, unfair. However small the claim, the lawyer running (or defending) it is expected to be an expert in the court procedure and the relevant law – judges love criticising solicitors for getting anything wrong, and penalise them by disallowing their costs or, in extreme cases, making them paying the opponent’s costs.

As you will understand, this makes litigation solicitors risk-averse: they cover all the bases, even in the smallest cases, resulting in high bills

So: if you want the costs of litigation to be proportionate, your expectations should be proportionate, too – don’t expect a gold-standard service for a nickel-standard claim and you might get a nickel-standard bill.

I should mention that this opinion is relatively unbiased, as I do not handle court work myself

(Rant over!)


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