News


Good news: the Bar Council and PIBA secure fixed recoverable costs uplift

Posted by · February 02, 2024 3:01 PM

 

I am delighted to be able to tell you that rule changes have been announced today, coming into force on 6 April 2024, to address two long-standing flaws in the fixed recoverable costs (FRC) regime for advocates namely:

  • The failure properly to uprate those fees for inflation for more than a decade. Advocates’ fees in FRC cases will see a 23% increase, implemented on 6 April 2024, as compared to pre-October 2023 fees. Whereas the original October 2023 rules only uprated fees from 2016, they are now being uprated from 2013, when they were last fixed;

 

  • The inability of advocates to recover a fee for work done where cases are vacated or settled close to trial. The changes announced mean:
    • On the fast track (cases of up to £25,000 in value), advocacy fees will be recoverable at 100% on the day of the trial and the day before, and 75% two days before trial.
    • On the intermediate track (cases of up to £100,000 in value), advocacy fees will be recoverable at 100% on the day of the trial and the day before, and 75% up to five days before trial.

Today’s joint Bar Council and PIBA press release can be viewed here.

The Government’s Consultation response, issued today, setting out the changes to the FRC regime in more detail is here.

These changes will of course benefit barristers working across the fields of civil work in the County Courts but, particularly, PIBA members who conduct so many of the fast track and intermediate track cases.

Although the latest consultation response commits to reviewing fixed fee levels within 3 years (from October 2023), PIBA and the Bar Council continue to lobby for automatic annual inflation-linked uprating.  

Other changes to FRC cases have also been announced which will also be welcomed by PIBA members, including:

  • Clarifying that clinical negligence cases will only be allocated to the intermediate track, rather than the multi-track, where there is a full admission of liability in the pre-action protocol letter of response;
  • Inquest costs will be recoverable, bringing FRC cases in line with the principles applied outside this regime;
  • Providing for the recovery of the costs of restoring a company to the Register.

The welcome changes announced today reflect a sustained lobbying campaign by PIBA over years and countless hours of effort by successive PIBA Officers and Executive Committee members during that time. On your behalf, I thank them all. Particular thanks should go to Martyn McLeish, who has been at the forefront of PIBA’s efforts on FRC for many years.

In the past year, PIBA’s efforts have had the determined backing of the Bar Leadership. PIBA is enormously grateful to current Chair of the Bar, Sam Townend KC (and his predecessor Nick Vineall KC) and the Bar Council staff team, for their concerted efforts in partnership with PIBA, through multiple meetings with Ministers, the MOJ and the Judiciary, many written submissions and consultation responses, speeches and interventions at the Civil Justice Council (and similar) conferences. When last year the original draft rules did not properly address long-standing problems, the Bar Council sent a letter before action, as a precursor to a Judicial Review.

It is welcome news that the Government has finally listened and these overdue changes are now being made.

Charles Bagot KC

PIBA Chair

 

St John's Chambers Special Damages Interest Calculator

Posted by · December 12, 2023 10:11 AM

 

As you may know, the Special Account Rate has changed regularly over recent months, loosely following base rate rises. It currently sits at 6%. We wanted to bring your attention to the interest calculator devised by Matthew White of St John's Chambers - published on their website here.

 

We are really very grateful to Matthew for devising this very useful tool! It's hard to overestimate quite how important this is!

 

PIBA takes no credit for the calculator nor does it endorse its use or its accuracy - but we thought it might be a useful resource for practitioners to be aware of.

PIBA Chair - New Legal Year Update

Posted by · October 09, 2023 8:50 PM

 

Dear PIBA Member

On 2 October, I was privileged to represent PIBA, at Westminster Abbey, at the service marking the Opening of the Legal Year. This was the first formal occasion for Dame Sue Carr, after her swearing in as the first Lady Chief Justice that morning. There will come a time when we can stop talking about such legal firsts. But this landmark appointment is a reminder of how we need to redouble our efforts to encourage and retain as diverse a pool of practitioners as we can in our own practice area. The statistics for gender, ethnic and disability diversity (and the pay gap) in PI work remain stubbornly poor. We received excellent engagement with our member survey on these issues and thank you to those who responded, as well as those on the EDI & retention sub-committee who are analysing the responses and working with the Bar Council and others to see what more we can do to accelerate change.

On the subject of the Bar Council (“BC”), I encourage you to cast a vote in favour of John-Paul Swoboda of 12KBW, who is standing for re-election to the BC as a PIBA sponsored candidate. It is vital that we speak up for the interests of members on our representative body and J-P has been a committed advocate for injury practitioners. Here is the link and voting closes at 10am on Thursday 19 October 2023:

https://www.mybar.org.uk/bar-council/election-listing.html

The value of engaging with and working with the BC cannot be overstated. Both the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Bar have worked tirelessly this year, in partnership with PIBA, to lobby Government law officers and the MoJ in relation to the shortcomings in the draft rules implementing the extension of Fixed Recoverable Costs to cases up to £100,000. When the MoJ continued to ignore all that PIBA and the BC have been saying in consultation responses and the like for the last 4 years, the BC sent a letter before claim for a judicial review application. The combined effect of these joint efforts, together with those of the likes of APIL, has had a direct impact given a consultation has already been issued on potential changes to the new rules. This is a first real recognition that there might be issues to address. PIBA and the BC’s joint response sets out pragmatic ways to address the defects in the current rules on perennial problems such as the failure to uprate advocacy fees or index link them and the lack of a payment mechanism for preparation done by advocates where cases are vacated at short notice by the Court or settle shortly before trial. We will continue to lobby and press for change. Again, on your behalf, I am so grateful to all those who have contributed to PIBA’s work on these issues, particularly Martyn McLeish of Cloisters who has shouldered the greatest burden and of course, to Bar Leadership, Nick Vineall KC and Sam Townend KC. Here is a link to PIBA’s latest joint consultation response with the BC, submitted in September 2023

As ever, there has been a flurry of other consultations launched to which PIBA has responded including some with short deadlines over the summer. I am grateful to all members who have contributed including on:

  • Criminal Injuries compensation for non-contact offences: here
  • Dual Discount rates (the MoJ’s recent update on the consultation responses draws on the PI response to the call for evidence): here

Other projects which PIBA has ongoing include: liaising with the King’s Counsel Appointments about addressing the challenges for PI practitioners in applying for silk; assisting The Advocates Gateway to produce a revised toolkit for dealing with vulnerable participants in civil proceedings; a working party to produce some standard PI Trust terms; considering how Inquest and (Injury related) Inquiry work can be better represented in PIBA activities; looking at an update to the standard PI CFA agreements; and liaising with BMIF about the cost of indemnity cover for PI work.

PIBA’s high quality education programme continues this autumn and beyond. Do get the dates in your diary and sign up for insightful updates plus a chance to interact informally with colleagues at the PI Bar. You should have received updates recently about the PIBA London Autumn conference, on Saturday 7 October 2023, which will probably just have taken place by the time you read this. Thereafter, we can look forward to the varied programme of quality speakers at the PIBA Northern Circuit Conference, on Saturday 11 November 2023. Then at the flagship PIBA Annual Lecture, at Inner Temple Hall, on Wednesday 29 November 2023, we are fortunate to have Lord Sales JSC as our speaker. Looking further ahead, there will be other ad hoc evening events in London and on Circuit over the winter and then our residential conference, in Oxford, from Friday 22 March 2024 to Sunday 24 March 2024. All the details and links to book either are or will be on this link:

https://www.piba.org.uk/events

Do take advantage of the discounts regularly available to PIBA members on titles such as the new PNBA Facts and Figures and other essential resources. Further details are on this link:

https://www.piba.org.uk/2023_07_books

On a sad note, PIBA mourns the death of Ronald (Ronnie) Walker KC of 12KBW, who died on 19 September. Ronnie was already a towering figure at the PI Bar (and beyond) when I first met him when a pupil at 12KBW whilst he was Head of Chambers, in the late 1990s. After I had finished pupillage and secured tenancy elsewhere, I was fortunate to be led by Ronnie. Whilst I doubt I contributed much to the case as a junior junior, I learnt a great deal from being led by him. His stellar intellect was coupled with an ability to be kind and generous to others. He was involved in most of the leading PI cases of the time and many since. At the time of his death, he was still in practice after a staggering 40 years in silk. You can read more about him in this tribute on the 12KBW website:

https://www.12kbw.co.uk/12kbw-mourns-the-loss-of-ronald-walker-kc/

We hope to see you at one of PIBA’s events over the coming months. If you have any suggestions or concerns about PI practice or would like to get more involved in your Specialist Bar Association, do get in touch with me or any member of the Executive Committee detailed on the website:

https://www.piba.org.uk/committee

I close this message by thanking all those who work hard in a myriad of ways to support the activities and efforts of PIBA, as well as Jo Davies, PIBA’s tireless and ever efficient administrator.

I hope the coming legal year is a successful one for you and your colleagues,

Best wishes,

 

Charles Bagot KC

PIBA Chair 2022-2024

Book Deals for PIBA Members

Posted by · July 24, 2023 9:32 AM

 

An update on various book discounts you might be interested in as a PIBA Member.

A new one to mention: 

Thomson Reuters are having a Summer Sale (24 July – 15 September) offering 30% discount on our Loose-leaf and Journals (Print, Ebook & Print & Ebook). The list of titles can be found here. If you are interested please email [email protected] quoting SUMMER23.

Please find attached the full list of titles for your information. There are some terms:

  • 30% summer savings discount is available to end customers for the attached list of subscription titles
  • The discount is available on all subscription formats; print only, eBook only (single user), print and eBook bundle (single user).
  • Offer is valid from 24th July – 15th September.
  • The promotion is for new sales only for all journals, law reports and subscription or CBR looseleaf titles.
  • This offer cannot be used with any other customer discounts.
  • Trial ProView access is available to customers who have previously cancelled their subscription or recently lapsed.  (Please note that trial access is only available for titles that are currently on ProView).
  • Trial access will be for a period of 1 month.  There is no commitment on the customer’s part to purchase in order to receive trial access.
  • Trial requests should be sent to me quoting ‘SS23-TRIAL’ and should include the title for trial and the customer’s details. 
  • Please note that the 30% promotional discount cannot be applied retrospectively and the promotion code, SUMMER23, must be quoted at the time of ordering. Forward to [email protected]

Sweet and Maxwell have a dedicated discount page for PIBA members, with offerings which change from time to time. Keep an eye on:

https://www.sweetandmaxwell.co.uk/piba/


Finally, as usual Facts and Figures will be available at a discount to PIBA Members. The 2023/4 Edition will be available in September. The prices are as follows:

Title

Quantity

Net Total

 

VAT Total

Gross Total

           

FACTS & FIGURES  2023/24 TABLES FOR CALCULATIONS OF DAMAGES- PRINT

1

£69.00

 

£00.00

£69.00

FACTS & FIGURES  2023/24 TABLES FOR CALCULATIONS OF DAMAGES-  Ebook

1

£69.00

 

£00.00

£69.00

FACTS & FIGURES  2023/24 TABLES FOR CALCULATIONS OF DAMAGES -Print & Ebook

1

£89.70

 

£00.00

£89.70

If you'd like to order a copy, please David Dooley at Thomson Reuters indicating which format you want:

[email protected]

 

 

Toby Kempster

Posted by · March 22, 2023 11:57 AM

 

PIBA members will be saddened to hear about the sudden death of Toby Kempster, on 17 March 2023.

Toby was one of the founding members of Old Square Chambers and rose to be Deputy Head of Chambers. He had a successful practice in injury and employment work and many members will have come across him in those fields. They will recall him as a capable and courteous opponent with a warm sense of humour.

There is a full tribute on his chambers’ website:

https://oldsquare.co.uk/in-memory-of-toby-kempster/

PIBA has sent its sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.

Charles Bagot KC

PIBA Chair