The Civil Procedure Rules (“CPR”) for the County Court and High Court are procedural rules governing civil litigation to make civil disputes less adversarial, quicker, and simpler. Before the CPR came into force, most judges were not actively involved in case management, or the process of preparing for trial; the parties themselves determined progression of their case.
The Overriding Objective
The CPR enables the courts to manage and deal with cases that are firstly, recognised as being enforceable by law and secondly, that have a ‘cause of action’. The court will deal with these cases justly, at a proportionate cost and will further the overriding objective during the civil litigation procedure.
Since April 2013, the Overriding Objective ensures that all parties are on a level playing field, that cases are handled justly, fairly, proportionately and that the costs of pursuing a dispute do not outweigh the benefits. Proportionality under the Overriding Objective includes:
i. Considering the amount of money in dispute;
ii. Considering the importance of the case;
iii. Considering the complexity of the issues; and
iv. Considering the financial position of each party.
It therefore ensures an appropriate allotment of the court’s resources to each case during civil litigation. The court actively takes part in case management, makes Orders, effectively makes directions after considering the needs of a particular case and considers what further directions need to be made during the civil litigation process.
All Order for directions specify a date by which they must be complied with and sanctions are likely to be imposed by the court for breach of a court Order, or non-compliance of an Order, which can include strike out of a case. The court may also order a party to pay a sum of money into court if it has, without good reason, failed to comply with a rule, a relevant pre-action protocol, or practice direction. This is because the court seeks to make the overriding objective effective when interpreting rules or exercising any power given to it by the Rules. As such, the parties to the dispute must assist the court to further the overriding objective.
Examples of how the court manages a case can include:
• Identifying issues early and encourages the parties to cooperate in the conduct of the civil litigation proceedings.
• Decides which of the issues require full investigation and which should proceed to trial, or which of the issues can be disposed of.
• Encourages the parties to save time and money by preparing a list of issues for observation and to use alternative dispute resolution methods to settle a dispute relating to issues of law, or issues of fact, in whole, or in part.
• Deals with as many aspects of the case as it can on the same occasion.
• Provides a court timetable and directions to ensure that the trial proceeds efficiently and quickly.
The Court’s Case Management Powers
The court has powers listed in the CPR, the practice directions and/or other rules, or any other enactment allowing the court to manage the case through to trial to further the overriding objective, including:
• Monitor compliance with directions and contact the parties from time to time.
• Extend the time for compliance with court orders, or practice directions.
• Bring forward or adjourn a hearing, or stay of proceedings.
• Order a Case Management Conference to consider the state of the proceedings as the case progresses.
• Direct part of any proceedings to be dealt with as separate proceedings, or consolidate proceedings.
• Decide how the issues are tried.
• Direct a separate trial of any issue.
• Make other Orders to manage the case Give judgment or dismiss a claim after a decision on a preliminary issue.
• Order a Pre-Trial review a few weeks before the trial date to discuss and consider how well the parties are prepared for trial and deal with any outstanding procedural matters.
Introduction of the CPR has transferred control of litigation from the parties to the dispute to the courts to make the process more streamlined.
When the court gives directions, it may consider whether or not the parties have complied with any relevant pre-action protocols. The aim of the pre-action protocols is to consider ADR, early exchange of information, understand the issues in dispute and encourages early settlement of a dispute without the need to go to court until and unless proceedings in court are unavoidable.
AJames Solicitors comprise a team of experienced civil litigation Solicitors. If you are involved in a civil litigation dispute, visit AJames Solicitors website for more information, or contact them on: 0161 791 6666/07729461166 for any legal queries, or send a message with your enquiry using the link below and a member of the team will contact you: https://www.ajamessolicitors.com/contact
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