08 October, 2015
The High Court has begun the implementation of a new scheme which aims to have cases reaching trial within 10 months of the case being brought before the Courts.
At this stage the scheme is not mandatory; a two year test of the scheme will be implemented in all Rolls Building Courts and parties will be encouraged to opt into it if applicable. Defendants will have 14 days from notification that the Claimant wants to opt into this shorter trial system in which to confirm their agreement of notify the Court of their objection to the same.
The claims most suitable for the scheme are those with a limited amount of disclosure, witness or expert evidence required and a fairly straightforward issues in contention by the parties and the case will be actively managed be a single judge throughout. There will be a limit of 20 pages in the Particulars of Claim thus ensuring complex cases are still directed through the existing case management procedure.
Lord Chief Justice Thomas Cwmgiedd identified small and medium sized businesses as those most likely to benefit from the scheme which should enable disputes to be resolved much quicker than through the traditional Court proceedings route. It does though raise the issue of how such a rapid Court procedure will work alongside the parties' obligations to utilise and explore Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). The scheme seems in danger of shoehorning parties towards their day in Court rather than allowing opportunities for ADR to be pursued, it will be interesting to see how these competing demands are accommodated in this new scheme.
The advice to any businesses considering utilising this scheme is to obtain legal advice from the outset, that way you can be sure you are bringing/defending the claim in the best possible way and legal advice could help you get the best out of the new scheme.
At Forbes Solicitors we have a dedicated team of litigation experts who can assist you on all aspects of civil disputes from the pre action stage right through to trial.