Bar Council warns that costs reduction must safeguard access to justice

Bar Council warns that costs reduction must safeguard access to justice

The Bar Council has responded to the Government?s proposals for the reform of the costs of civil litigation and has highlighted that, whilst cost reduction is in the public interest nevertheless significant threats to access to justice must be addressed and that one size cannot fit all in litigation.

In a detailed response, which reflects the views of practitioners across the country in many different areas of practice, the Bar Council’s response agreed that where the base costs of litigation are currently too high, they must be reduced. It also agreed that claimants should have a stake in the litigation that they choose to bring, but not be at the expense of access to justice for claimants in need of legal redress.

Christopher Hancock QC, the Chairman of the Commercial Bar Association, who has led the Bar Council’s response, said:

“We accept that methods to reduce costs in the litigation process which are disproportionate must be found. We also broadly welcome the proposals for large disputes, where there are no issues regarding funding or access to justice.

“However, we are concerned that in many cases these proposals will lead to acute problems for litigants seeking access to justice. The combination of cuts to legal aid and plans which will impact severely on funding of smaller cases must not be allowed to exclude whole categories of parties from the ability to seek legal redress”.

The full consultation response can be found on the Bar Council web site at www.barcouncil.org.uk/consultations.

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