Professionals defending negligence claims must work closely with their solicitors to ensure that they keep to strict court timetables.

Missing deadlines for filing budgets or failing to comply with court orders could put their defence at a serious disadvantage say solicitors, a year on from the introduction of the Jackson Reforms. The reforms, reported in Brunel News in July and October 2013 and January 2014, have been designed to cut the cost of civil litigation.Jackson introduced a new requirement for parties to provide costs budgets at all stages of the litigation process. The courts have been strict where deadlines have been missed and have the power to prevent defendants from recovering their full legal costs if successful in a case.

The Law Society is worried that solicitors are experiencing difficulty in explaining the importance of budgets to their clients. “The sheer volume of information which needs to be provided, together with the very complicated nature of that information, is completely baffling to most clients,” it told the Law Society Gazette. “Many of those clients therefore fail to grasp the risks they may be taking and the costs which they may be liable for despite the explanations, which have to be repeated several times in many cases, by their solicitors.

Law firms Norton Rose Fulbright and Allen & Overy have published detailed analysis of the Jackson Reforms one year after their introduction. These will be invaluable in helping professionals facing litigation to understand the courts’ approach to deadlines and procedures.

Missing a court imposed budget deadline could mean a professional faces a huge legal bill, even if they successfully defend an allegation of negligence,” said James Burgoyne, Director – Claims & Technical, Brunel Professional Risks. “Professionals should be aware of the very serious consequences which could flow from what appears to be a simple administrative matter. They should follow their solicitors’ guidance on court timetables and procedures very carefully as missed deadlines could prove costly.