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long delays. In 1999 the woolf reforms of the civil justice system tried to address these problems. The civil courts of England and Wales adopted an overwhelmingly unified body of rules as a result of the Woolf Reforms on 26 April 1999. These are collectively known as the Civil Procedure Rules and in all but some very confined areas replaced the Rules of the Supreme Court (applicable to the High Court of Justice) and the County Court Rules. THE COURT STRUCTURE The Three Tracks All cases that are defended are allocated to one of three tracks Small claims track:- This is for most cases under £5,000. NOTE:that the normal limit for housing disrepair cases and personal. Fast Track Cases:- These are claims for between £5,000 and £15,00o,although cases of this amount involving a complex point of law can be allocated to the multi- track. Multi-Track Cases:-These are claims over £15,000,or complex. THE CIVIL COURTS These are two civil courts that hear cases at first instance; i.e. fresh cases and not appeals. These are the county court and high court. The county court hears all small claim cases and fast track cases. County courts which are designated as civil trial centres,can also deal with multi-track cases. However, unless the parties agree,cases above £50,000 in value are not usually tried in the county court. The High court has three divisions Queens bench division-for contract and tort claims Chancery Division-for disputes involves equity matters such as mortgages,trusts,copyrights and patents. Family Division-for family related disputes and cases relating to children. PROCEDURE IN OUTLINE The civil procedure rules 1999 set out the rules for each stage of a case. The rules aim see to it that,when people sue or are sued they obtain justice. Cases are dealt with depending on their monetary value. Parties are encouraged to disclose the facts of their case prior to starting any court case. A pre-action protocol must be followed. All claims less than £15,000 must be started in the county court. Claims for more than this amount can be started in either the High court or the County Court, except personal injury claims for less than £50,000,which must be started in the county court. Most type of claims are started by issuing a Part 7 claim form. The claimant states particulars on the claim form, or attach to it , or served separately within 14 days of the claim form being served. There must also be a Statement of truth as to the facts in the particulars of the claim. The claim form and the particulars of the claim must be served on the defendant. This may be done by the court or the claimant and can be served personally, by post, by fax, by e-mail or other electronic means. The defendant had 14 days in which to respond. a defendant may:Pay the Claim Admit or Partly admit File an acknowledgement of service (but then must file a defence within another 14 days) File a Defence A defence that just denies the claim is not sufficient, it should be more specific. The defendant must after being served and not admitting the claim, he must file a defence which has substance. It is not enough to simply deny the claim. A defence that simply denies will be struck out by the courts. At any point before or after the commencement of proceedings, the defendant or the claimant must make a part 36 offer (to settle) and payment. ALLOCATION OF CASES When a defence is filed at court,an allocation questionnaire is sent to all parties. This helps the Judge decide which track the case should be allocated to. An allocation fee has to be paid at this stage, but not for claims under £1,000. If a party is dissatisfied with the allocation decision an application can be made to the court for the claim to be reallocated. Small claims procedure Cases are heard by a District Judge' who will normally use an interventonist approach. This is an approach that allows the court to try and intervene in helping the parties to agree with one another in sorting out the case. Cases are dealt with in a relatively informal way, although they are now heard in open court,prior to the 1999 reforms small claim cases were heard in private. The use of lawyers is discouraged because the winning party cannot recover the costs of using a lawyer from the losing side. There may be a paper adjudication if the judge thinks it is appropriate and the parties agree. This is an approach by the court where the parties bring in the documents they wish to use and the court decides the case using the documents. They do not need evidence in court. Fast track cases Before a fast track case,there must be a process of directions. The idea is to simplify the case for the court. Directions are a summary of the case. There is a maximum delay of 30 weeks between directions and trial. Normally only one expert witness is allowed and, if the parties cannot agree on an expert, the court has the power to appoint one. The expert's evidence will be given in writing. There are fixed costs for the advocate at the trial. Multi track cases There is no standard procedure for pre-trial directions unlike fast track,the judge has flexibility to use a number of different approaches,including case management conferences and pre-trial reviews. The aim is to identify the issues as
(b) saving expense. . or (b) interprets any rule. and introduced the concept of proportionality to the costs regime. while taking into account the need to allot resources to other cases. Lord Woolf published his Access to Justice Report 1996  in which he ". limiting or requiring specific actions. (b) be fair in the way it treats litigants. and largely replace the Rules of the Supreme Court and the County Court Rules. An approximate date for the trial (a trial window) is given to the parties and the court is very unlikely to agree to any adjournment. and (iv) to the financial position of each party. The draft rules of practice formed their core. members of the legal professions and civil servants and charged with reviewing the civil justice system. The CPR were designed to improve access to justice by making legal proceedings cheaper. and easier to understand for non-lawyers. The number of expert witnesses is controlled by the court as the courts permission is needed for any party to use an expert to give evidence (oral or written). On 26 July 1996.. All time limits are strictly enforced.2 The court must seek to give effect to the overriding objective when it – (a) exercises any power given to it by the Rules.) Lord Woolf listed two of the requirements of case management as: ". It also established the Civil Justice Council. and (h) be effective: adequately resourced and organised. (ii) to the importance of the case. (Italics in the original. both in time and money. (f) be responsive to the needs of those who use it. (iii) to the complexity of the issues. The system should: (a) be just in the results it delivers. the CPR commence with a statement of their “Overriding Objective”.. History In 1994. The Overriding Objective Implemented as a result of reforms suggested by Lord Woolf and his committee. 1. and County Courts in civil cases in England and Wales. both to aid in the application of specific provisions and to guide behaviour where no specific rule applies. The rules are written not just for lawyers but are intended to be intelligible for a litigant in person. a body composed of members of the judiciary.early as possible and where appropriate.identified a number of principles which the civil justice system should meet in order to ensure access to justice. Lord Woolf. and limiting disclosure and expert evidence". (d) ensuring that it is dealt with expeditiously and fairly. The report was accompanied by draft rules of practice designed to implement Lord Woolf's proposals. quicker.. (d) deal with cases with reasonable speed. which states: 1. the Lord Chancellor instructed the Master of the Rolls. High Court of Justice. so far as is practicable – (a) ensuring that the parties are on an equal footing. Unlike the previous rules of civil procedure. These rules: granted wide management powers to the court  proposed that cases be allocated to one of three tracks depending on their nature. The second thread of the report was to control the cost of litigation.. (c) dealing with the case in ways which are proportionate – (i) to the amount of money involved. Civil Procedure Rules The Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) are the rules of civil procedure used by the Court of Appeal. by focusing on key issues rather than every possible issue  and limiting the amount of work that has to be done on the case. (c) offer appropriate procedures at a reasonable cost. It conferred the power to make civil procedure rules.1 (1) These Rules are a new procedural code with the overriding objective of enabling the court to deal with cases justly. Civil Procedure Act 1997 (c. This is aimed at encouraging a settlement. (e) be understandable to those who use it." . They apply to all cases commenced after 26 April 1999. (2) Dealing with a case justly includes. The Civil Procedure Rules 1998 (SI 1998/3132) were made on 10 December 1998 and came into force on 26 April 1999.fixing timetables for the parties to take particular steps in the case.try specific issues prior to the main trial. one of the revelations of the rules is the “Overriding Objective” embodied in Part 1 of the Rules. 12) was enacted on 27 February 1997. to report on options to consolidate the existing rules of civil procedure. (g) provide as much certainty as the nature of particular cases allows. and (e) allotting to it an appropriate share of the court’s resources.
for which the Small Claims Track is not the normal track are usually allocated to the Fast Track unless: the trial is likely to last for more than one day.00. the CPR introduced “pre-action protocols”. order that the party in breach: • pay some or all of the costs of another party • pay costs to another party on an indemnity rather than standard basis • pay a higher rate of interest on particular damages awarded. Multi Track Any case not allocated to either the Small Claims. or for a particular period. amongst other remedies. They are given force by Practice Direction – Protocols Purpose Pre-action protocols outline the steps that parties should take in particular types of dispute to seek information from. each other prior to making a legal claim.or the Fast Track is allocated to the Multi Track.000. or there will be more than one expert per party in each field. The court may.000. suffering. Fast Track Claims with a financial value of no more than £15. These will place parties in the same position as if the breach had not occurred (or a close as possible).000 .000 are usually allocated to the Small Claims Track unless: the amount claimed for pain. and loss of amenity is more than £1.or the financial value of any claim in addition to those repairs is more than £1. oral expert evidence at trial will be in more than two fields. or the cost of the repairs or other work to residential premises claimed against the landlord by a tenant is estimated to be more than £1. . A claim for a remedy for harassment or unlawful eviction relating to residential premises will not be allocated to the Small Claims Track even if it meets the financial limits. Paragraph 1 of the Practice Direction defines the purpose of pre-action protocols as: • encouraging the early exchange of all information relating to the prospective legal claim • aiding settlement of the claim without the commencement of proceedings • producing a foundation for efficient case management where litigation cannot be avoided Current Pre-action Protocols Protocol Construction and Engineering Disputes Defamation Disease and Illness Claims Publication September 2000 September 2000 September 2003 Coming Force 2 October 2000 2 October 2000 8 2003 8 2003 4 March 2002 26 April 1999 2 October 2006 16 July 2001 26 April 1999 December December into Disrepair Cases September 2003 3 2001 January 1999 September 2006 May 2001 January 1999 December Judicial Review Personal Injury Claims Possession claims based on Rent Arrears Professional Negligence Resolution of Clinical Disputes (previously called Clinical Negligence) Last Updated 6 September 2007 Penalties Paragraph 2 indicates that the Court may add terms to any order if it feels a party has breached a protocol.Tracks Small Claims Track Claims with a value of not more than £5..whether or not they are also seeking another remedy . Pre-action Protocols To support the ethos of narrowing the issues prior to the use of proceedings and encapsulate best practice.000. and to provide information to.
and a winter break during January. Where a case has been commenced prior to the protocol coming into force. Enactment Section 3 of CPA requires that Rules be enacted by a statutory instrument to which the Statutory Instruments Act 1946 is to apply as if it contained rules made by a Minister of the Crown. repeal. under Part II of the CLSA 1990. including at least one with particular experience of practice in county courts • One person with experience in and knowledge of consumer affairs. the right to conduct litigation in relation to all proceedings in the Supreme Court. and • One person with experience in and knowledge of the lay advice sector Appointments are made in consultation with the Lord Chief Justice and all authorised bodies (within the purposes of section 27 or 28 of the CLSA 1990) which have members who are eligible for appointment. or revoke.3). The committee currently meets 9 times a year. or revoke. where a party commences proceedings prior to supplying important information to the other party(s) then the Court might disallow interest for the period prior to the information being provided. Section 3(1)(a) grants the Lord Chancellor the power to choose when a Rule comes into effect. Consequential amendments Section 4(1) of CPA grants the Lord Chancellor the power to amend. This power is subject to the approval of both Houses of Parliament by a resolution. by way of statutory instrument any other law to achieve the purposes of Rules. Creation of the Rules Section 2 of the CPA requires that the CPR are made by a committee called the Civil Procedure Rule Committee. including at least one with particular experience of practice in county courts • Three persons who have been granted by an authorised body. repeal. For instance. The current membership of the CPR Committee at any time is to be found on the Ministry of Justice website. with a summer break during August and September. the protocol might provide grounds to show a party had or had not behaved so unreasonably as to merit penalty under another Rule (for instance CPR 44. It also sets out what would normally be considered reasonable behaviour prior to issue. by way of statutory instrument any law to facilitate the making of Rules. but after publication the protocol is not binding.forgo interest on a particular item of damages or for a period. In addition. However. • . The committee is appointed by the Lord Chancellor and is formed of: • The Master of the Rolls • The Vice-Chancellor • One judge of the Supreme Court • One Circuit judge • One district judge • One person who is a Master referred to in Part II of Schedule 2 to the Supreme Court Act 1981 • Three persons who have a Supreme Court qualification (within the meaning of section 71 of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 (CLSA)). the degree to which a party has attempted to follow it anyway might be persuasive. Cases not covered by a protocol Where no protocol has been published Paragraph 4 states that parties should conform to CPR 1 and the Overriding Objective. Section 4(2) grants the Lord Chancellor the power to amend.
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