Costs News

08 October 2015
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Shorter trial pilot scheme ditches costs management

Costs management will not normally apply to cases dealt with under the new shorter trial pilot scheme introduced into the courts in the Rolls Building last week.

The scheme’s goal is to resolve disputes on a commercial timescale. Cases will be dealt with by the same judge from beginning to end with the aim of reaching trial within approximately 10 months. The maximum length of trial will be four days.

The rules governing the scheme say that CPR 3.12 does not apply unless the parties otherwise agree. If they do so, they should seek an order to that effect at the case management conference and apply for directions as to when budgets should be subsequently exchanged, discussed and submitted for the court’s approval.

They also say that within 21 days of the conclusion of the trial, or within such other period as may be ordered by the court, the parties shall each file and simultaneously exchange schedules of their costs incurred in the proceedings. These should contain sufficient detail of the costs incurred in relation to each applicable phase identified by Precedent H… to enable the trial judge to be in a position to make a summary assessment thereof following judgement”.

The rules provide that the court will make a summary assessment save in exceptional circumstances. They also disapply CPR 44.2(8), 44.7(1)(b) and part 47.

The Rolls Building has also introduced the flexible trial pilot scheme, which allows for more flexible case management where both sides agree, resulting in a simplified and speedier trial. It is designed to encourage parties to limit disclosure and to confine oral evidence at trial to the minimum necessary for the fair resolution of their disputes. Its aim is to reduce costs, reduce the time required for trial and to enable earlier trial dates.

Lord Thomas, the Lord Chief Justice, said: “Small- and medium-sized businesses are the lifeblood of the economy. To prosper, they need disputes to be resolved in a speedy, fair and economic way. The introduction of this judge-led reform will help to ensure that court users can have their disputes resolved quickly, improving access to justice for businesses.”

The Judicial Office added that many of the procedures in the schemes are already available under the CPR, “but are not always applied comprehensively in the same case. The pilot pulls these two approaches to case management together into distinct schemes, which the parties can adopt in order to improve access to justice in commercial disputes.

“The schemes should also help encourage a change in litigation culture, which involves recognition that comprehensive disclosure and a full, oral trial on all issues is often not necessary for justice to be achieved. That recognition will in turn lead to significant savings in the time and costs of litigation.”

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