Q&As

Does the court have a duty to dispose of cases as soon as possible?

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Published on LexisPSL on 19/12/2016

The following Dispute Resolution Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Does the court have a duty to dispose of cases as soon as possible?
  • Overriding objective
  • Courts’ power to make order of its own initiative
  • Powers to shorten time for compliance
  • Split trials
  • Rolls Building—shorter trials scheme
  • Ending a claim
  • Court Guides

Does the court have a duty to dispose of cases as soon as possible?

This Q&A is relevant to civil cases which are governed by the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) and associated Practice Directions. There are several CPR rules that are applicable to ensuring cases are dealt with in a timely manner as set out below.

Overriding objective

CPR 1.1 sets out the overriding objective of the CPR, which is to enable the court to deal with cases justly and at proportionate cost. In doing so, the court must, among other things, ensure that a case is dealt with expeditiously and fairly. The court must further the overriding objective by actively managing cases and active case management includes ‘deciding promptly which issues need full investigation and trial and accordingly disposing summarily of the others’.

While the court needs to be aware of the above, there needs to be a balance to ensure that cases are also dealt with justly. This is highlighted in the overriding objective as CPR 1.1(2)(d) states ‘ensuring that it is dealt with expeditiously and fairly’.

While there is an obligation to be efficient, the courts’ duties under active case management involve a number of different considerations that must be taken into account. This should be borne in mind when assessing the speed of the claim, not least as the courts will want to ensure they

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