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THE WOOLF REPORT
On the 26th April 1999 the new Civil Procedure Rules instigated by the Woolf Report came into effect. The synopsis below details the fundamental changes in UK civil litigation. We have provided a glossary of the new terms used in litigation procedure.

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The reforms of civil litigation procedures proposed by the Lord Chancellor's department came into force in April of this year. Previous rules regarding civil litigation conduct (that is, the Rules of the Supreme Court, known as "The White Book" and the County Court Rules, known as the "Green Book" are almost completely replaced
The new rules are an entirely new regime for dealing with civil disputes. Known as the Civil Procedure Rules ['CPR'] , they apply to all current actions as well as new ones. There are certain transitional arrangements for current actions, designed to implement the new CPR regime as soon as possible. Some rules (especially those relating to costs are retrospective.

What is covered by the CPR ? The CPR effectively replaces the Rules of the Supreme Court and County Court Rules. Generally, the only areas that remain covered by the old rules are Insolvency Proceedings and Family Proceedings
The CPR are made up of four sections - Pre-Action Protocols, i.e. guidelines that the Court expects followed prior to issue of proceedings, the rules themselves (each rule being known as a 'Part'), Practice Directions and Commentary (that relate to each Part).

So What's New? The objective of the new culture is to enable the Courts to "deal with cases justly" (although one wonders whether this implies there was no prior justice !) The principles are:

To ensure that all parties are on an equal footing; To save expense; To deal with the case in ways that are proportionate to the amount of money involved, its importance, its complexity, and to the parties financial position; To ensure the case is dealt with fairly and expeditiously Apportion each case an appropriate share of the Court's resources
The above principles are stated, however there are other aims:
To make the courts a place of 'last resort' in settling a disputeparties being expected to attempt to settle the dispute first through mediation or arbitration; To ensure that all parties stick to the timetable laid down by the Court, with little sympathy for non-observance;
It is intended that the Court will control and monitor all procedural steps to trial, case management becoming an important issue. Additional and increased Court fees act as a further disincentive.

What are the 3 "tracks"? The CPR has introduced three "tracks" for bringing cases to trial. Depending upon the amount involved, cases will be allocated to the appropriate track when the defence is received:

Small Claims Track: Replaces arbitration, similar procedurally; costs remain unrecoverable. Issued only in the County Court and for claims less than 5,000. There is an additional fee for allocation to the track upon receipt of defence.
Fast Track for claims of 5,000 to 15,000 where the trial will not last longer than one day. Issued only in the County Court.
Multi-Track for claims over 15,000, issued in the High Court and the County Court. Also for claims where the Small Claims Track of Fast Track do not apply.
The Effects
Pre-Action Protocol This entails setting out the claim in full to the Defendant, and attempting to negotiate a settlement. Protocols were previously only applied to personal injury cases. Failure to co-operate with pre-action may lead to cost penalties, regardless of whether the case is won or lost. The hope is that fewer formal actions will arise, putting an emphasis on co-operation to identify the main issues. As a party should be ready to go to trial before proceedings are actually issued, the effect will almost certainly be to front-load costs.
Timetables: A stringent timetable for exchange of evidence is now set by the Court, particularly in Fast Track and Multi-Track cases - this includes witness statements and relevant documents; the Court also now has the power to restrict this evidence, with the objective of minimising issues and saving time. An application to extend will fail if the timetable has not been adhered to.
Trial Window: When the defence has been received, a three week "Trial Window" is allocated, which will not be changed. The trial may come on at any time during this period, and the window should be within thirty weeks from initial directions given by the Court upon issue. Such directions may be wide ranging dependent upon the issues of the case, its complexity, value and inmportance.
Penalties: there are cost penalties for failing to meet any date set by the Court; the Court may also refuse to award costs, or make an order for payment of the other party's costs, possibly within 14 days.
Updates: The CPR are being updated constantly, and the above is designed as an overview only.

GLOSSARY OF TERMS

 

OLD TERM

 

NEW TERM

ANTON PILLAR

SEARCH ORDER

CALDERBANK LETTER

PART 36 OFFER

COUNTERCLAIM

PART 20 CLAIM

DISCOVERY

DISCLOSURE

INTERLOCUTORY RELIEF

INTERIM REMEDY

MAREVA

FREEZING INJUNCTION

ORDER 14 APPLICATION

PART 24 APPLICATION

ORDERS

PARTS

PAYMENT INTO COURT

PART 36 PAYMENT

PLAINTIFF

CLAIMANT

PLEADING

STATEMENT OF CASE

SUMMONS

APPLICATION NOTICE

TAXATION

DETAILED ASSESSMENT

WRIT/ORIGINATING SUMMONS

APPLICATION NOTICE

LIQUIDATED CLAIM

SPECIFIED CLAIM

UNLIQUIDATED CLAIM

UNSPECIFIED CLAIM

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