Image © Peerakorn Chotthanawarapong

Experts and Fixed Costs Extension

By Kerry Underwood, Senior Partner and Solicitor, Underwoods Solicitors

Kerry is an acknowledged expert on funding and the legal system generally. He is a former Judge, current author, lecturer, broadcaster and a former Councillor and Parliamentary Candidate. He deals extensively with Fixed Costs medical reports, MedCo and these matters are in his recent book – Personal Injury Small Claims, Portals and Fixed Costs, running to three volumes and 1,300 pages and available from his website

Issue 7

Lord Justice Jackson’s report – Review of Civil Litigation Costs: Supplemental Report: Fixed Recoverable Costs – was published on 31 July 2017.

It proposes that all cases of all kinds valued at up to £25,000 be subject to Fixed Recoverable Costs (FRC) and thus those personal injury matters currently outside the scheme will now be brought in.

The government has already announced that holiday sickness claims will be brought into the scheme early in 2018 and that it is now working with stakeholders in the clinical negligence sector with a view to making all clinical negligence claims of £25,000 or less subject to FRC sooner rather than later.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss claims, currently generally outside the scheme, are to be brought in as soon as possible and the figures and procedure have now been agreed.

Thus, it is likely that all personal injury work up to £25,000 will be subject to FRC from October 2018.

Lord Justice Jackson’s report also proposes a new Intermediate Track which will capture all personal injury claims valued at between £25,000 and £100,000, except clinical negligence claims which will be subject to a separate regime.

All cases in the Intermediate Track will be subject to FRC and there will be a streamlined procedure to ensure that those fixed costs adequately compensate lawyers for the work done.

The good news for experts is that at present the existing system of fixed costs for medical reports, largely in the existing Fixed Costs Scheme, will not be extended and nor will the MedCo system of supposedly randomly allocating experts. In the Fast Track, the rule remains that oral expert evidence is limited to one expert per party in any field and not more than two expert fields, but as Lord Justice Jackson says: “that definition is unrealistic. It is usually impracticable to have multiple expert witnesses giving oral evidence in the context of a one-day trial.”

The Intermediate Track trials will last up to three days, so many cases currently allocated to the Multi-Track due to the amount of expert evidence, will now go into the Intermediate Track.

In the Intermediate Track, oral expert evidence will be limited to one, or if reasonably required and proportionate, two expert witnesses for each party.

Each expert report shall be no more than 20 pages, plus any necessary photographs, plans and academic or technical articles attached to the report.

In appropriate cases opposing experts shall give their evidence concurrently, in accordance with Practice Direction 35, Section 11, a process sometimes called “hot-tubbing”.


There is no costs budgeting in any FRC cases, whether that is the Fast Track or Intermediate Track, but the court can use its costs capping powers to restrict the fees of experts.

Given that all other aspects of the costs are fixed, including counsel’s fees, the court is likely to exercise these powers to avoid costs assessments in relation to just the issue of expert’s fees.

The future

Experts should regard this as a temporary reprieve.

In relation to the Intermediate Track and experts the report says this:

“5.12 Disbursements. The above table does not include disbursements. The principal disbursements will be court fees, expert fees and (where ADR takes the form of mediation) the mediator’s fee. In some cases, translators and/or interpreters are needed. I recommend that once the new fixed costs regime is in place, work should commence on developing fixed costs for experts. This is essentially what happened in the fast track. Once the fast track fixed costs for personal injury cases had been in place for a year, a scheme of fixed costs for medical reports was introduced: see chapter 15, paragraph 5.22 of my previous report and CPR rule 45.19. It would also be sensible to develop fixed costsfor mediators, translators and interpreters.”

Indemnity costs due to experts’ conduct

In The Governors and Company of the Bank of Ireland (1) and Bank of Ireland (UK) PLC (2) v Watts Group PLC [2017] EWHC 2472 (TCC) the Technology and Construction Court ordered that the costs incurred as a result of the conduct of the Claimant’s expert be assessed on the indemnity basis.

The court said that it was particularly critical of the Claimant’s expert quantity surveyor who gave evidence on behalf of the bank and had “grave concerns about his evidence.”

The court took the opportunity to review the case law in relation to conduct so bad that it warrants indemnity costs orders.

The court concluded that there is authority for the proposition that where a court concludes that the conduct of an expert should be marked in the Costs Order, it may be appropriate to order that the specific costs generated by that expert should be assessed on an indemnity basis – see

Balmoral v Borealis [2006] EWHC 2531 (Comm) and Williams v Jervis [2009] EWHC 1837 (QB).

“Accordingly, I consider that the costs of the Defendant’s QS expert, Mr Whitehead, should be assessed on an indemnity basis, as should the costs of and occasioned by Mr Vosser’s oral evidence at the trial.”


There is a view that experts have got away with it as far as the extension of fixed costs is concerned, as, alone, their costs remain unfixed and uncapped.

However, there is increasing evidence that the courts are looking at experts’ fees and conduct much more closely than in the past.