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CPRC Snippets: July 2015: done and dusted – 81st CPR update

As expected, the July CPRC meeting (the last before the end of term) had a packed agenda, as the committee signed off on a number of changes being effected in the SI and making document for the 81st CPR update, which will take effect (mostly) on 1 October 2015. The committee also found time to continue work on some important ongoing initiatives, notably its review of the costs management regime.

Helpfully, the CPRC has made the papers from the meeting available now, along with draft minutes, rather than waiting until the minutes have been approved at the next meeting in October.

In this blog post, I detail some of the key “done and dusted” items considered by the CPRC, that are being implemented as part of the 81st CPR update. In two later posts, I will turn my attention to ongoing projects being worked on by the CPRC.

  • Revised rules for statutory review of certain planning matters.
  • New requirement, when commencing detailed assessment, for phased breakdowns of costs.
  • Voluntary pilot (in the Senior Courts Costs Office) of a new form bill of costs.
  • 12 month extension of the pilot scheme for automatic transfer of “London Group” multitrack cases to the County Court at Central London.
  • New Financial List.
  • Launch of Shorter and Flexible Trial Procedures pilot schemes.

Revised rules for statutory review of certain planning matters

A new CPR 52.15B and PD 8C (Alternative Procedure for Statutory Review of Certain Planning Matters) have been introduced, together with a new version of PD 54E (Planning Court Claims). These changes relate to the implementation of section 91 and Schedule 16 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015.

New requirement, when commencing detailed assessment, for phased breakdowns of costs

PD 47.5.2 and CPR 47.6 have been amended to add a requirement to provide a breakdown of the costs claimed for each phase of the proceedings (in the form of Model Precedent Q) when commencing detailed assessment proceedings, in cases where a costs management order has been made and the old form bill of costs has been used. This is a temporary measure, pending the formal introduction of a new form bill of costs. It is designed to assist with detailed assessments by ensuring that bills of costs can be cross-referenced against the costs budget phases. Amending the rules in this way avoids the need for directions to be given in each such case.

Voluntary pilot (in the Senior Courts Costs Office) of a new form bill of costs

A voluntary pilot scheme has been commenced in the SCCO to introduce (and allow evaluation and feedback on) a new form bill of costs (Precedent AA). The new format is designed to align the bill of costs with the headings (or phases) used in costs budgets, and is seen as an essential part of the process for implementing costs management through to the costs assessment stage. The pilot will run from 1 October 2015 to 1 April 2016 (see PD 51L). Looking ahead, it is currently expected that the next stage will be a compulsory pilot (subject to possible exceptions) in the SCCO from April 2016. Interestingly, a note by Sir Vivian Ramsey states that the length of this pilot will depend on experience during the voluntary phase of the pilot, while a separate note by the Senior Costs Judge states that will run for two years.

12 month extension of the pilot scheme for automatic transfer of “London Group” multitrack cases to the County Court at Central London

The pilot scheme for automatic transfer of “London Group” multi-track cases to the County Court at Central London has been extended for a further 12 months, to 30 September 2016 (see PD 51I). A memo to the CPRC states that the senior judiciary involved, and HMCTS, are satisfied that the pilot has been successful in improving timeliness, and that there will be further improvements as the system becomes embedded. Statistics provided to the CPRC show a 16 week reduction in average waiting times for multi-track cases at the County Court at Central London, under the pilot. The memo also refers to the benefits of the “triage” service in terms of transferring out cases that should not be heard in London.

The extension is designed to allow the improvements to filter through, gather data and test the pilot. It is interesting to note the comment that it is also hoped that the extended pilot will “support the work being done across Chancery and Queen’s Bench to consider what work may come down to the Central London County Court from the High Court in the future”. HMCTS plans to return to the CPRC in Spring 2016 with a permanent proposal, well before the end of the extended pilot.

New Financial List

new Financial List (see CPR 63A and PD 63AA) has been introduced, together with a pilot for the Financial Market Test Scheme (see PD 51M). The minutes record that the CPRC did not consider that any further consultation on this was required. Papers considered by them at the July meeting included a memo from Colin Birss outlining the proposals, and identifying points taken on board following consultation. That appends a summary of some of the positive general comments made by consultees including the City of London Law Society, Linklaters and COMBAR.

Launch of Shorter and Flexible Trial Procedures pilot schemes

Pilot schemes on Shorter and Flexible Trial Procedures, which will run for two years (see PD 51N), have begun. The Shorter Trial Scheme involves streamlining court procedure so that judgment can be given within a year of proceedings being issued. The Flexible Trial Scheme allows parties to agree to adopt more flexible case management procedures.

Papers considered by the CPRC at the July meeting included the text of a guide to the shorter and flexible trial procedures, to be included in the relevant court guides. That strongly encourages parties and their advisers to consider using the scheme for suitable cases. It recognises that aspects of the schemes might need refinement, over time, and states that the courts will work closely with users to clarify and resolve any issues. The guide also notes that parties participating in the scheme will be expected to communicate and cooperate to a high degree, with a view to determining cases in a cost effective and timely manner. Again, the minutes record that it was considered unnecessary to have further consultation on this.

To view the papers in full on our website, see the resources page and the section headed “Civil Procedure Rule Committee Meetings”. The papers include draft minutes, which provide a useful summary of all of the matters discussed.

Practical Law Dispute Resolution Beverley Barton

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