The changes have been announced for the 69th CPR update: http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil
Let us go through the likely effect of some of the changes. I can only comment on general civil litigation so anything outside of this remit will be overlooked.
I am not saying other areas are not important, I’m just not smart enough to practice in those areas.
As stated in the preamble, the two main changes being the implementation of the single County Court and bailiff and enforcement reform.
THE County Court
The single county court with hearing centres is just a glorified rebranding exercise. From a practical point, it just means printing off a list containing the different names of hearing centres, and then pinning it to your wall. This will go nicely with your list of court fees for issuing claims and applications.
Ask your trainee to colour code them so the lists complement each other.
In relation to bailiffs and enforcement, I could not care less. I skimmed this section because my clients only pursue defendants with insurance backing to satisfy a judgment. There is nothing more demoralising for a claimant than obtaining a court order, at their [further] cost, which fails to recover damages.
Changes to Precedent H
Minor tweak. Very few changes to be concerned about. The statement of truth has amended wording, but has the same practical effect. Was it really worth it?
It removes the square brackets problem I guess…
Part 8 Alternative Procedure for Claims
The amendment provides that a claim in the county court under Part 8 may be commenced at any County Court hearing centre. (Intended implementation date 22 April 2014.)
Part 12 Default Judgment and Part 14 Admission
For those County Court claims where a request for judgment which includes an amount of money to be decided by the court is filed, the claim will be sent to the preferred County Court hearing centre. (Intended implementation date 22 April 2014.)
Part 16 Statements of case
Amendments are made to reflect changes to the High Court and County Court Jurisdiction Order 1991 which will provide that financial claims below £100,000 must be made in the County Court. PD7A is also amended. (Intended implementation date 22 April 2014.)
Getting claims transferred from the High Court to the County Court has always been a time wasting activity. The High Court is normally willing to transfer a lower value claim to free up the High Court caseload, but the rigmarole of going through the hearing causes months of delay. This is generally a positive step.
Part 26 Case Management – Preliminary Stage and PD26 – Case Management – Preliminary Stage: Allocation and Re-allocation
The Small Claims Mediation pilot scheme set out in PD51I is made permanent and PD51I is omitted. (Coming into force 1 April 2014.)
All small claims should go through telephone mediation. Although the operator is not legally qualified, this is not fatal, and the process normally only lasts 1 hour. If a compromise can be reached, it serves a purpose. I see no real downside to this approach.
Part 42 Change of Solicitor
Amendments are made to allow any person who, for the purposes of the Legal Services Act 2007, is an authorised person in relation to an activity which constitutes the conduct of litigation (within the meaning of that Act) to be entered on the court record. This reflects all those legal representatives who now have the right to conduct litigation, including legal executives, costs lawyers, patent attorneys, and trade mark attorneys. (Coming into force 6 April 2014.)
The precise wording is: ”For the purposes of this Part, “solicitor” has the meaning set out in rule 6.2(d).” My guy instinct is that very few, if any lawyers, will deviate from their own specialist court. I would be amazed to see an IP/trademark attorney conduct litigation outside of their niche court. They have little interest in this and probably want to adopt a more cradle to grave approach, so they do not have to pass over control of the file at trial.
Part 45 Fixed Costs and PD45 Fixed Costs
An amendment is made to Part 45 to correct an omission, and the PD is amended to correct a cross reference. (Coming into force 6 April 2014). This is a minor amendment found at rule 45.30, in paragraph (2), in subparagraph (b), after “or registered design” insert “or registered trade mark”. Little impact…
Part 52 Appeals
This addresses 2 main issues and the amendments come into force on 6 April 2014.
(1) An amendment is made to provide that any order refusing permission to appeal will indicate the court to which any further application should be made and the level of judge who should hear the application.
This is unnecessary in my view as there is a lot of guidance on appeal stages. Most solicitors rely on the PLC subscription website, which provides a dummies guide on these types of procedural stages.
(2) A further amendment is made introducing a permission filter in respect of appeals to the High Court in respect of determinations or directions of the Pension Ombudsman.
This change is needed as I have been informed there is an increasing amount of litigation in respect of pensions. I have been told that more firms are looking into this as an emerging area, partly due to the law, and partly motivated by the fact pension firms tend to hold large pots of money
(that can be converted into profit costs) for obtaining damages.
PD 81 Contempt and Committal
Amendments are made consequential to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, to provide that funding in cases of contempt is provided under criminal legal aid. Coming into force 6 April 2014.
This will interest the insurers who are clamping down on fraud, and more than willing to fund actions for contempt against those seeking to defraud the system. It is strange that legal aid will be available, mainly because this will largely apply to those who exaggerate their injuries and fake insurance claims.
Does anybody else have any views on the changes? I am happy to accept comments, criticism and emails (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please note that I have not yet had an opportunity to consider the Statutory Instrument in depth, and this is just my interpretation of the changes so far.
Over and out.