Monday 25 March 2013 by Catherine Baksi
Better case management with all cases docketed and dealt with by a single judge are among the Bar Council's recommendations to make civil justice quicker and more cost effective.
A working party chaired by the immediate past chairman of the bar, Michael Todd QC, published its report on 'Reforming civil litigation' today.
The recommendations come shortly after the chancellor of the High Court commenced a review of the practice and procedure of the Chancery Division.
The group's key recommendations are:
- All cases should be docketed to ensure consistency and effectiveness of case management decisions
- Case management conferences, conducted by the trial judge, should take place no later than the close of pleadings, at which point the parties should be required to identify the issues to be decided and the evidence required, thus limiting disclosure and the preparation of evidence
- Pre-action protocols should be abolished as, by formalising the pre-action process, they add to the length and expense of proceedings. The emphasis instead should be on detailed pleadings in compliance with the rules
- The CPR rules for witness statements should be abolished and replaced by rules for witness summaries, covering a number of specified areas, and subject to the judge's discretion to exclude oral evidence or direct witness statements
- A single, electronic case management administration system should be implemented across the jurisdictions of the Rolls Building, in order to improve the efficiency of (and time spent on) both case management conferences and docketing, and
- There should be only one procedural guide for the Rolls Building.
The group's findings have been sent to the senior judiciary.
Todd said: 'We hope that the recommendations which we have put forward for discussion provide a sensible starting point to continue to improve and evolve civil litigation in this jurisdiction.'
Read the full report.