REUTERS | Jonathan Bachman

What to expect when you’re expecting: court reforms, CPR and Brexit

Donald Rumsfeld, then US Secretary of State for Defence, is said to have commented in February 2002: “There are known knowns. There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know.” It is safe to say that, what with an on-going programme of reform to HM Courts & Tribunals Service, regular updates to the English & Welsh Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) and the UK’s vote to withdraw from the European Union (EU), we know change is coming; we just don’t know what forms it will necessarily take. Luckily, Practical Law Dispute Resolution is on hand to keep our subscribers up to date with the most recent changes, proposals and commentary.

Court reform

Having written about the topic previously, it seems only fitting that I first mention Lord Justice Briggs’ Civil Courts Structure Review, the final report of which was produced recently. His suggestions for the introduction of the Online Court, use of Case Officers, number of courts and the future of the Divisions, court thresholds, deployment of judges, and enforcement of judgments and orders, constitute the most notable features of the programme of reform to courts and tribunals between 2015 and 2020. The features of the reform programme, and Briggs LJ’s proposals, have been much discussed by industry experts. It will be interesting to see if Liz Truss, the new Lord Chancellor, continues the work of her predecessor, and practitioners will undoubtedly pay close attention to issues surrounding any online court, given the impacts it will likely have on the way in which law firms and barristers’ chambers conduct their businesses. Subscribers can keep abreast of major developments, proposals and responses in our comprehensive court reform programme tracker.


With everything else that is going on, it may be easy to miss important changes, such as court fee increases. We hope that our coverage provides a platform for all of your need-to-know requirements, as we appreciate just how essential knowledge of the CPR is for civil practitioners. For those of you who only function by breathing in CPR changes, in the same way that a supercar will only perform properly if fed premium unleaded, we cater for your needs. Not only do we record updates in our CPR updates tracker, we are in a unique position to bring you news and provide papers regarding the matters discussed at each Civil Procedure Rule Committee (CPRC) monthly meeting in our CPRC meetings tracker. So, as you contemplate holiday reading, why not reach for your tablet and envelop yourself in civil procedure?


We’re yet to see just how our withdrawal from the EU will affect dispute resolution in England & Wales. Regardless of which arguments persuaded you during the plebiscite, it would not be unfair to state that the result came as a shock. Where dispute resolution is concerned, we very much have to wait and see what will happen. However, some issues are identifiable at this early stage. For example, practitioners and academics will undoubtedly focus on the impacts that leaving the bloc will have on the enforcement and recognition of foreign judgments. Will we still abide by the Recast Brussels Regulation, or, if the UK becomes a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), will we lean on the 2007 Lugano Convention? Regardless, Practical Law will continue to follow developments and highlight any noteworthy commentary on the legal implications of Brexit.


Perhaps it’s difficult to think of a similar time when so many cats were let loose on a kit of pigeons. A certain mischievous tortoiseshell I know, called Pickles, certainly likes to cause a ruckus, but that might make the metaphor too literal. Yes, the rest of the world may be full of unknown knowns, but at least you will have some idea of what to expect in the world of dispute resolution if you subscribe to our service.

Practical Law Dispute Resolution Jack Meek

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