It is fitting that an article about confused messages should have to start with an explanation of its title. Only those who are old and British will know that pre-decimalisation currency consisted of pounds, shillings and pence, written as £. s. d. “Three and fourpence” was three shillings and four pence (written as 3/4) and was equivalent to about 17p in new money.
The (possibly apocryphal) story goes that a Great War front line commander sent a message back from the trenches “Send reinforcements, going to advance” which reached HQ as “Send three and fourpence, going to a dance”. It comes to mind as we watch the UK Ministry of Justice, and those responsible for the mechanics of rule-making, convert Sir Rupert Jackson’s crisp and urgent message about case management and costs control into a confused jumble. The front-line troops are the case managing judges and the lawyers who are trying to work out what they are supposed to be doing to comply with a regime whose implications, they know, include fierce enforcement provisions. At the time of writing, the enforcement provisions in Rule 3.9 have (just) been published, but the new eDisclosure rules have not. You can therefore, theoretically at least, be punished for non-compliance with rules which you cannot easily find.
The Jackson reforms have attracted a great deal of comment, much of it from people who know what they are talking about in their various specialist subjects; we have also heard a lot from people who are less knowledgeable, from some who conflate a range of changes (including those to Legal Aid) under the label “Jackson”, and from some whose position is like that of the early 20th Century judge who said “Reform! Don’t we have problems enough already?”. Read the rest of this entry »