STOP ROCKETING LEGAL COSTS! Make litigation costs proportionate to the value of the case
This petition had 143 supporters
This petition aims to stop ballooning litigation costs. The present court rule states that costs must be proportionate to the value of a case, however this is often ignored in practice.
I strongly believe that this ‘proportionality rule’ must be made to work. At the moment it is more honoured in the breach than the observance – with the result that legal costs mount uncontrollably often way beyond any sum rational people would choose to invest in pursuing their claims.
There are countless cases where costs exceed the amount at the centre of the dispute. A recent example is an argument between two neighbours involving £4K of repairs to drains; legal fees are £300k, and the case isn’t settled yet.
Judges are given costs estimates at every hearing. They warn parties to settle when the costs are too high, but people think they can't settle and don't know what alternatives are available to help them agree things. They may think if they settle they’ll lose out to the other party, but this is untrue – on the contrary!
As a consequence litigants continue to gather evidence and argue points of law – a very costly and lengthy process – in the hope they’ll defeat their adversary.
So here's the plan. Once joint costs reach about 20% of case value, both clients must be referred to an accredited mediator to hear how mediation resolves disputes based on their shared interest in reaching an agreement and ending their litigation.
Mediation is an increasingly popular dispute resolution procedure proven to settle between 60-90% of cases. It is used in all dispute areas including family, civil and commercial. A National Audit Office Report into Family Mediation shows that it settles disputes much faster and more cheaply than the legal route.
In some countries including Australia, parts of the USA & Canada, Norway and Israel, family mediation is already compulsory.
Last but not least, the Ministry of Justice has increased court fees six-fold in the last 2 years and is planning to close 84 courts in a cost-cutting exercise. However, this won’t prevent people needing to sort out their disputes. The main outcome will be for costs to rise as court proceedings will take even longer than they do already.
A much better solution would be to have shorter legal proceedings (at present they sometime last for years). The automatic referral of litigants to a mediator once costs reach 20% of the disputed amount will achieve just this and will save much money and time to both litigants and the courts.
So do please sign my petition and share it with your friends!
Today: Mary is counting on you
Mary Banham-Hall needs your help with “The Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss and Rt Hon Sir Oliver QC MP: STOP ROCKETING LEGAL COSTS! Make litigation costs proportionate to the value of the case”. Join Mary and 142 supporters today.