Cutting the Cost of Litigation
In the hope of encouraging quicker and more cost effective litigation, the Courts are currently running two pilot schemes, which will be in place until October 2017, in cases primarily taking place in the Chancery Division, the Commercial Court, the Mercantile Court and the Technology and Construction Court. The two schemes are known as the Shorter Trial procedure and the Flexible Trial procedure. The aim of both schemes is for commercial litigation to reach trial at an earlier date for a reduced cost, with the length of the trial itself also to be reduced.
The premise of the shorter Trial procedure is that cases will be case managed by docketed Judges with the aim of them reaching trial within 10 months of the date on which proceedings are issued. Other features of the scheme are as follows:-
- Restrictions on the length of the pleadings.
- No requirement to comply with Pre-Action Protocols.
- Disclosure of documents to take place within 14 days of the Case Management Conference.
- Restrictions on the length of Witness Statements.
- Restrictions on the use of oral evidence from experts.
- The maximum length of trial to be 4 days, including reading time.
The Flexible Trial procedure has the aim of encouraging the parties to use more flexible case management procedures, so as to simplify the process of heading to trial. By way of example, the parties may, if they agree, decide that there is not to be any costs budgeting, and the parties may adopt more flexible trial processes, so as to suit the particular circumstances of their case.
These developments highlight the continuing wish of the Courts to streamline the litigation process, and it will be interesting to see whether they are rolled out in to other Courts, across the board.
This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.