Civil litigation reform will be a long, hard road, fraught with difficulties

When it was published just under a year ago, Lord Jackson’s review of civil litigation costs looked doomed to be shunted into the long grass, like so many worthy Whitehall initiatives before it.

It is a huge fillip for the insurance industry, therefore, that a government that prides itself on its reforming credentials has chosen the relatively unglamorous topic of civil litigation review as one of its causes.

The Jackson Review agenda, promising as it does to cut the NHS’s legal costs, fits well with the government’s wider cost-cutting agenda.

And the coalition parties are unburdened by associations with the trade unions – something that had been a major roadblock to any concerted attempt by Labour to sort out the problem.

But reform will be a long, hard road, fraught with technical difficulties. Ministers will need strong stomachs to enter into battle with the claimant lobby’s representatives.

However, this government has already shown in its brief lifespan that it is not afraid of a fight. And in Lord chancellor Ken Clarke it has a political bruiser par excellence – a man prepared to take on even the ambulance drivers when he was health secretary.

Nevertheless, in an increasingly bitter political climate, the government will need all the friends it can find to see this particular reform through. IT