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Cutting the cost of IP litigation

14 January 2010

After several months preparation a report was published today which makes recommendations aimed at reducing costs of IP cases and speeding up the process of dispute resolution.

A constant criticism of litigation is that the costs involved in pursuing or defending a claim are disproportionate. The risk of having to pay the other side’s costs in the event of losing an action or even the unrecoverable costs of winning a claim are a barrier to using the courts for dispute resolution particularly for small and medium sized enterprises. It has been estimated that the average cost of taking a case to trial is in the region of £700k (although our experience is that we would not expect the average case to cost that much).

The new proposals contained in a report written by a serving Judge of the Court of Appeal and bearing his name (Jackson) include:

  • reforming the Patent County Court and introducing a cap on recoverable costs (£50,000 in patent cases, £25000 for all other IP cases);
  • introducing a fast track and small claims track for cases with low monetary value and clearer forms of pleadings

The proposals are welcome as if implemented they will enable us to give greater certainty regarding the exposure to costs of litigation. If such greater certainty is achieved will it mean greater confidence in the court system? What do you think?

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