The Justice Minister, Jonathan Djanogly has announced that Qualified One Way Cost Shifting (QUOCS) will apply to all claimants and there will be no need for financial tests to decide who is eligible to be covered and who is not.
The move is thought to be a huge step in cleaning up how claims are made and will cover everyone, just as long as they go through all the correct procedures as they claim.
The ruling on QUOCS will be implemented as of April 2013 and means that claimants no longer have to pay the fees of the defendant if their case proves to be unsuccessful. There are, however, three examples in which protection will be removed.
The exceptions include:
- If the claim is found to be fraudulent.
- The claimant fails to meet the defendant’s Part 36 offer to settle out of court.
- If the case is deemed to be an abuse of the courts process and has been struck out.
In regards to the Part 36, if the case does proceed and the judgement actually betters the offer by the defendant, then sanctions will be put in place where up to 10% for damages, or 10% of all costs if it is non damage, will be added on. This will apply up to a limit of £75,000.
There has been mixed reaction to the changes in the way QUOCS will work, with many arguing that it will encourage people who are pursuing smaller claims to settle out of court, due to the fear of coming away with nothing at all.
But the Law Society President, Lucy Scott-Moncrieff feels the changes are for the better as she explained:
“It’s good that the government has listened to the concerns expressed by solicitors. The mooted means test applied to the new qualified one-way costs shifting rules, introduced into personal injury cases by the Jackson Reforms, would have undermined the logic of the reforms and been an administrative nightmare”.
She goes on to explain that the Society fully backed the changes to the old system and look forward to working alongside the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and the Civil Justice Council (CJC) on the implementation of the future civil justice changes.
The ruling on QUOCS has been introduced to align with changes to the way claims are funded as a result of Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LAPSO), which removed the right to recover solicitors success fees and after the event premiums from the defendant. These changes will effectively save the claimant, in some cases, as much as 25% of their damages.
Scott Rees and Co is a leading firm of North West solicitors specialising in personal injury accident claims on the road, at work and in public places.