We understand that a White Paper will be issued by the end of the month detailing the Government's proposed changes to the civil justice system.
This is in Usain Bolt territory. The Jackson consultation only ended on the 14th February so what does it mean if they are issuing their proposals under 6 weeks later?
My conclusions are:
- They have drafted in a large team of expensive lawyers to go through the hundreds of submissions and thereafter draft what is likely to be complicated legislation OR
- They have decided not to change much OR
- They already decided what they were going to do before the consultation and so most of the legislation was already drafted.
Well, let's see shall we. I would dismiss option 1 - far too expensive and there has been no indication of a recruitment drive at the Ministry of Justice - the opposite in fact. So that leaves us with options 2 and 3.
Now I would like to think that the answer is 2. We have both sides of the industry telling the Government that one way costs shifting would be a disaster and would increase claims considerably. We also have a group of academics slating the Jackson report stating it was one sided and biased and can't be relied upon. So we can all breath a collective sigh of relief can't we?
Well, I don't think so. Unfortunately, you can't trust politicians and you certainly can't trust this Government. Anyone remember what the Conservatives said before the election? They said they weren't inclined to bring in the Jackson reforms. As soon as Mr Cameron stepped into No. 10, what did they do? Yep - decided Jackson was the best thing since sliced bread. So, if I were a betting man, I would put money on option 3.
The only light at the tunnel here is the problem of getting a bill through parliament. Again we understand that the Ministry of Justice has only been given time for one bill - so they are rolling all of their wish lists up into one piece of legislation - including reducing legal aid, prison numbers and prisoner voting. This will serve to delay the bill through parliament as I can't see all of these going through without a fight. So don't give up. If I am right and it is option 3, the battle won't be over yet. Time to Lobby your MP.
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