Reform of the CPR

Reform of the CPR

houseoflordsThe CPR Committee, at an open meeting on Friday 17 June 2016, considered reform of the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) which is aimed at reducing the number of rules and practice directions. Lord Justice Briggs, Deputy Head of Civil Justice set out the purpose of the reform and suggested the first Parts to be considered for reform.

Reason for reform

Lord Justice Briggs set out that the CPR Committee is considering a ‘cleaning up’ of the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR). The aim is to make the rules more concise. Briggs LJ's inclination was to invite the committee members to focus on narrowly defined and attainable objectives; he noted that some of suggestions received had taken a more liberal view than had been anticipated. The suggestions cover a wide range of Parts and practice directions and make various suggestions including addressing the impact on litigants in person and whether the Parts should focus on main stream civil procedure issues with more specialist provisions being put into a set of separate rules. No information is given as to who made the suggestions but it should be noted that the reform was discussed at the Open meeting and non-Committee members that attended to view the meeting were invited to provide suggestions when applying to attend. The views are available here:

Initial parts to be reformed

It was agreed by the CPR Committee that the reform process would start with looking at the simpler Parts and associated practice directions.  Lord Justice Briggs suggested the following Parts for reform:

First tranche for reform:

  • CPR 3—The court’s case and costs management
  • CPR 12—Default judgment
  • CPR 14—Admissions
  • CPR 39—Miscellaneous provisions relating to hearings

Second tranche for reform:

  • CPR 7—How to start proceedings
  • CPR 8—Alternative procedure for claims
  • CPR 32—Disclosure and inspection
  • CPR 40—Judgments, orders, sale of land etc

There were various discussions between members of the CPR Committee and agreement was reached that the reform would start with CPR 12 and CPR 14. The members of the sub-committee will be Master Roberts and Mr Masood Ahmed. The next Parts to be subject to reform will be CPR 3 and CPR 39.

Approach to practice directions

It maybe that during the reform process information currently in practice directions would be added into the Parts so dispensing with the existing practice directions. This was in part to address the public views which had been expressed as to whether there was any need for a split between Parts and practice directions. It is felt that in some cases information had been incorporated within practice directions rather than within the rules found in the Parts of the CPR on the basis that it is easier to bring into force changes to practice directions.

Note:

  • new and amended Parts—The Civil Procedure Rule Committee have power under Civil Procedure Act 1997 to make rules of court but the new and amended Parts are then set out in a Statutory Instrument which the Lord Chancellor may allow or disallow
  • new and amended practice directions —existing practice direction are made by the Master of the Rolls under the powers delegated to him by the Lord Chief Justice under Schedule 2, Part 1, paragraph 2(2) of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, and are approved by Lord Faulks, Minister of State for Justice, by the authority of the Lord Chancellor

Points arising in discussions about the reforms

Some points to note are:

  • overall—the CPR Committee has a lot of work to do and so the process of reform may take some time. Where reform of a Part is being considered, this is done by sub-committee which then undertakes a huge amount of work when considering new/amended rules
  • overlap—there is overlap between different Parts and that will need to be taken into account when dealing with reform of any Parts. For example Part 3 deals with costs management while Parts 44-48 deal with General costs rules, fixed costs, costs in special cases, detailed assessment and costs issues transitional arrangements following the coming onto force of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012
  • CPR 44 to CPR 48—these Parts were subject to change as part of the coming into force on the Jackson costs reforms. Despite this it was considered by the CPR Committee that this was an area which, although difficult, was one which should be considered for reform as it could be considerably simplified.  However, there are further potential changes to the costs provisions eg extension of fixed costs which is currently under consideration.  Such changes also need to be taken into account and so it would make sense for any reform to take place after the issue of fixed costs has been determined
  • Part 36—this will not be subject to any further reform

Further Guidance

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About the author:

Janna is a dispute resolution lawyer. She deals primarily with cross border issues and is active in the work being undertaken in relation to the implications of Brexit for Dispute Resolutions lawyers. Janna also heads up a LexisNexis costs team bringing together expertise from across the company to deal with the costs issues facing the profession.