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The past few years have a seen a large number of pilot schemes running in the courts due to the Jackson Reforms. With the small claims mediation scheme coming to an end in March we could perhaps be forgiven for hoping that the courts would give us some breathing space before any more pilot schemes come into play. Well there is some breathing space but only one month!
A new pilot scheme will be up and running in the Chancery Division of the High Court from 1 May this year entitled Fixed ended trials.
The question for practitioners involved with cases in this Division is will it affect them, if so what does the pilot entail and what impact will it have?
Well, if the trial date is on or after 1 May 2014, it may well affect them and a failure to understand the implications of the pilot scheme could have serious repercussions if the time estimate provided for trial proves to be an underestimate, even if by a small margin.
The Chancery Modernisation review found that almost 50% of cases exceeded their time estimate for trial and that on average the underestimate was by almost 50%. The Chancery Division are seeking to address this in a two pronged approach (1) encouraging parties to produce better time estimates and backing this up with (2) a new pilot scheme bringing in fixed ended trials:
Parties need to pay much more attention to the time estimates being provided to the courts in relation to the amount of time that will be required for trial. Issues highlighted are:
The pilot scheme for these will begin on 1 May 2014. The pilot scheme, recommended by Lord Justice Briggs, will put into place his proposal that each trial should be required to be completed with the period allocated to it, unless there are unexpected circumstances.
Practitioners involved with proceedings in the Chancery Division therefore need to consider the following:
Details of how the pilot scheme will be applied in practice have not been made available. Many issues arise such as:
One thing we can be sure of, and that is that the implementation of this pilot scheme will result in an increase in the time estimates being provided for trial as practitioners urge on the side of caution.
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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.
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