• Avinder Laroya

An overview of the changes to the Civil Procedure Rules

In recent months there have been some changes to the Civil Procedure Rules. This article will provide a brief overview of some of the recent amendments made to the Civil Procedure Rules:

CPR 83.3A (2) of The Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 4) Rules 2021 has recently been updated, it came into force on 7 August 2021 whilst most of the other amendments took effect from 1 October 2021 with some dating back to May 2021.

This article will look into the following changes.

· Changes to County courts

· New mediation service for small claims

· New enforcement provisions for bailiff powers

· Costs budgeting

· Changes to disclosure

· Guidance for case management

· Statement of truths

· Witness statements

· Communication and filing of documents by email

1. Changes to County Courts – PD51R and PD51S

Technical changes have been made to alter the operation of the Online Civil Money Claims (OCMC) Pilot, Practice Direction(PD) 51R and the County Court Online Pilot Scheme, PD51S. These changes came into effect on 24 May 2021.

· Practice Direction 51S covers provisions for a pilot scheme that allows for specified and unspecified money only claims to be submitted electronically in the County Court where the Claimant is legally represented.

· The main change to PD51S is that its operation has been extended for 12 months, until 30 November 2022.

2. New mediation service for small claims - PD51R

Some changes to the Online Civil Money Claims Pilot are as follows:

· The OCMC pilot scheme has been extended for a further 2 years until 30 November 2023

· Section 6 and paragraphs 10.1 and 10.3 of PD51R have been amended to extend the Mediation opt-out feature to claims greater that £500. This means that by default, parties will be required to consider mediation as an initial dispute resolution mechanism unless they choose to opt-out. At the moment, only parties with claims worth £500 or less were required to consider mediation in the first instance with an option to opt out only if they preferred to pursue litigation to settle their claims.

3. New enforcement provisions for bailiff powers – PD 83.8A (2)

· Following a public consultation in May 2019 and in support of the provisions contained in the Civil Procedure (Amendment No.4) (Coronavirus) Rules 2020, bailiff enforcement powers were amended to provide tenants/occupiers a notice period before eviction in private and social housing and commercial property/land. These changes came into effect on 23 August 2020.

· CPR 83.8A (2) has been amended yet again to provide occupiers with a further minimum of 7 days’ notice of eviction, if the first eviction does not take place as initially intended. This came into effect on 7 August 2021.

4. Cost Budgeting – PD 3E

· The new PD 3E makes change to documents that should be filed for budgeting purposes, contents of reports and factors courts should consider when reviewing budgeting costs.

· A new form has which will be used in the event of variation of a budget pursuant to rule 3.12A has been introduced. This form, Precedent T can be found here.

· A new Budget setting tool has been introduced to offer guidance on the cut-off between budgeted costs and incurred costs. It draws a distinction between costs incurred before the date of the first costs management hearing and those incurred after the hearing.

5. Disclosure - PD 51U

Effective from 1 November 2021, the new Practice Direction Update amends the Disclosure Pilot for the Business and Property Courts, to be governed by PD 51U. The changes are as follows:

· A new regime has been created within the pilot for ‘Less Complex Claims’.

· Paragraphs 1.11 and 13.5 of the revised PD51U expressly state that disclosure in multi-party claims are likely to need a tailored approach from the court.

· Provisions (paragraphs 7 to 10 of PD51U and the DRD and guidance notes) relating to lists of issues for disclosure have been modified to make the process of agreeing lists of issues simpler and less contentious. The consequence of exclusion of narrative documents has been softened to avoid a higher expenses being incurred on the exclusions of documents than is incurred on leaving them in.

· Paragraph 11 of PD51U of the Disclosure Guidance has been redrafted to eliminate the emphasis for a hearing.

· Additionally, paragraph 6A has been introduced to the disclosure guidance. It elaborates on the courts role during disclosure. The court can provide disclosure guidance or help parties resolve their differences through applications made to court over issues of determination.

· Paragraph 9.2 of PD51U has been edited to state that in absence of an Extended Disclosure Order on any issue for Disclosure, a party must still disclose all known adverse documents within 60 days of the first case management conference and provide a disclosure certificate proving that this has been done.

6. Guidance of case management – Practice Direction 3E

· Rule 3.1 is amended to make explicit the court’s powers to refer a matter to be heard before the Divisional Court of the High Court in appropriate circumstances to further the overriding objective to enable the court to deal with cases justly and at proportionate cost.

· Where the value of a claim is under £50,000 or the costs are less than £25,000, only the first page of Precedent H will now be exchanged and filed.

· Where the Claimant is vulnerable ie with a severely impaired life expectation the court will not apply the cost of case management.

· It has been amended that in lower value claims the cost budget must now be filed with the Directions Questionnaire and 21 days before the case management conference in other claims.

· Budget discussion reports agreed between the parties must be filed 7 days before the first hearing.

· Costs claimed in each stage of the proceedings must be provided to the court when assessing costs at the end of the case.

7. Statements of Truth – Practice Direction 22

· The wording of the statement of truth will now include a contempt of court warning. Paragraphs 13.1 (1) and (2) will now state that proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against anyone who makes, or causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by the statement of truth without honest belief in its truth.

· The statement of truth should be dated with the date on which it is signed.

8. Witness Statements – Practice Direction 32

· Where a witness statement is written in English but the witness cannot speak English and the statement is not necessarily ‘in their own words’, it is required that this is brought to the court’s attention early on in the process.

· Practice Direction 32.12 prohibits collateral of witness statements outside the proceedings in which they are served, but there is no equivalent to affidavits. To promote consistency this rule will now also apply to affidavits.