Don’t fall foul of the Jackson Reforms

In 2013 the civil courts underwent a substantial change, known as the Jackson Reforms.

The Reforms reflect a change in court attitudes and especially their desire to settle civil disputes more efficiently, to the benefit of the parties and the public purse.

The courts insist that cases be dealt with ‘proportionately’ and that costs should reflect the complexity and value of the dispute.

One result of the change is that courts are now stricter about complying with orders. For example, failure to provide a witness statement in time could mean the court will refuse permission for that witness to be heard – and this is just one of the sanctions available.

The most serious sanction, having your case “struck out”, is now far more common.

How to avoid Jackson Reform sanctions

  • Co-operate with the other party. This may not be possible, but if you can get other party to agree with your proposed ‘directions’ (timetable), the court is more likely to approve it.
  • At the first directions hearing make sure you agree realistic schedules that allow you to compile your evidence;
  • If you are unable to comply with a deadline, seek your opponent’s permission for an extension;
  • Get court approval. The other side may agree to an extension, but ultimately the court must grant it;
  • ‘Buffer orders’ can allow an extension without court approval in some limited circumstances;
  • Make sure your witnesses, experts or any others providing evidence are clear about court deadlines and the risks if they miss them.

If the court does impose sanctions you can apply to have them set aside. The court’s shift in attitude means that this is more difficult than ever before.

The best advice is to consult a solicitor if you are going to court with a dispute and to make sure you understand your obligations and what is expected of you.

Robert has a broad commercial practice and has handled thousands of disputes relating to many commercial activities and industry sectors. He has acted in claims ranging from a few thousand pounds to several million, including cases where the commercial implications of the dispute carry a greater value than the dispute itself.

Applying negotiation, mediation and litigation as appropriate, Robert is well-known for his tenacious yet pragmatic approach to getting the best results for clients, while managing the risks and costs.

Robert Joined Gray Purdue in 2000, initially on a secondment from a client company. The opportunity to bridge the gap between lawyer and client gave Robert an insight into settling disputes and he seized the opportunity to join the firm full-time and progress through a series of qualifications whilst managing a diverse caseload of disputes, culminating in his admission as a solicitor.

After Gray Purdue merged with another firm to form Verisona Law in 2008, Robert relocated to the firm's Lakeside office and developed the firm's Commercial Dispute Resolution practice. In 2013 Robert was appointed as a director of the firm and now heads the Commercial Dispute Resolution team and oversees the various litigation teams across the firm. 

Protecting and preserving business interests:

  • Enforcing, terminating and recovery under contracts and agreements
  • resolving disputes including contractual obligations and statutory or commonlaw duties duties
  • Protecting brands, Intellectual Property and goodwill
  • Protecting confidential information and trade secrets
  • Protecting online and digital activities
  • Recovery of money, property and assets
  • Urgent relief including court applications, injunctions, freezing orders and search orders
  • Mediation, arbitration and alternative dispute resolution

Professional Negligence:

  • Including bringing and defending claims against:
    • Architects
    • Solicitors
    • Surveyors
    • Accountants, and
    • Directors

for breach of professional, fiduciary and statutory duties.

Land and Property:

  • Boundary disputes
  • Dilapidations claims
  • Actions against trespassers
  • Forfeiture of leases and recovery of property
  • Recovery by distraint


  • Pursuing and defending claims on behalf of and against Liquidators and Administrators
  • Strategic advice  on merits, legal and tactical issues
  • Asset tracing and recovery
  • Claims against directors



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