02 March, 2017
As tradition dictates, every April the CPR is amended and this year is no exception. There are a number of noteworthy amendments which will come into force on 6 April 2017.
The following changes are to be made:
Court fees will no longer be automatically refunded which will significantly reduce the number of financial transactions and administrative work for court staff.
As a result, the hearing fee will now be payable much later in the process, approximately four weeks before the hearing date. At this stage parties will have a better idea of the viability of the claim and defence.
It is intended that those cases likely to settle will have the incentive to do so earlier to avoid paying the hearing fee. Courts will be able to take advantage by filling vacated hearing days with other cases saving judicial and court resources.
A notable amendment to CPR 3 is the inclusion of two new rules: CPR 3.7A1 and CPR 3.7AA. Accompanying these new rules are amendments in relation to the sanction for non-payment of the trial fee (strike out of the claim or counterclaim and an order for costs).
Following the judgment in the Court of Appeal case of Sarpd Oil International Ltd v Addax Energy SA & Anor  EWCA Civ 120, the CPR is to be amended to clarify the courts powers in relation to cost budgets. The CPR will now confirm that the courts approval of a cost budget relates to estimated costs only, and that the detailed assessment process still applies.
The rules will make it clear that the fixed costs system continues to apply to those cases that fall out the pre-court portal process, for example where liability is not admitted, and a claim is issued through the usual court procedure and subsequently allocated to the multi-track.
Case that are high value, and/or complex, and/or will require significant court hearing time (over one day) are usually allocated to the multi-track. The inference being that fixed costs will continue to apply until the matter is allocated to the fast track, in accordance with the ruling in the recent case of Qadar v Esure Services Ltd & Khan v McGee  EWCA Civ 1109.
For further advice please contact Sarah Wilkinson by email or on 01254 662831.