Get the information you need to practice law Quickly, Easily and No Subscription Required.
What is KnowHow?
Detailed Practice Notes written by our Professional Support Lawyers, guiding you through the key issues in each topic.
Case management - overviewScope of case management practice notes
The court’s case management rules and powers can vary between courts. It is important to check the case management rules and procedures for the court in which your proceedings have been issued.
For more detail see Scope of case management practice notes.
Court's case management powers
The court's aim is to ensure that cases are dealt with justly - in other words, in accordance with the overriding objective. It can take any step for the purpose of managing the case and furthering that objective. The court's case management powers are set out in CPR 3.1(2). The key ones are:
changing the time for compliance with a court order or rule
striking out a claim
Sanctions will apply automatically where a party fails to comply with a rule, practice direction or court order unless that party applies for relief. In considering whether or not to grant relief, the court will consider the list of criteria set out in CPR 3.9.
For more detail see Court's case management powers.
Parties are generally required to complete an allocation questionnaire after service of the defence; exceptions do apply for example if the court itself has dispensed with the need to provide them. It is therefore important to aware of when you need to complete it, who needs to complete it, what fee is payable, what information needs to be provided and who the completed questionnaire should be provided to. The questionnaire provides the court with information about the proceedings itself such as whether expert evidence is required but parties are also required to set out whether they have sought to settle the dispute or whether if proceedings were stayed settlement might be achievable.
For more detail see Allocation questionnaire.
All claims are allocated to one of three tracks:
small claims track (claims of up to £5,000, personal injury claims of up to £1,000)
the fast track (claims of more than £5,000 but less than £25,000), or
the multi-track (claims of more than £25,000)
The court will determine which track is appropriate for the case on the basis of Allocation Questionnaires completed by all parties to the action after all defences have been filed. While the financial value of the claim is the court's starting point for the selection of the track, it will also take into account factors such as the nature of the remedy sought and the complexity of the facts, law or evidence.
For more detail see Track allocation.
Small claims - case management
Claims on the small claims track are known as small claims. Parties often act in person and, as such, case management is focused on them. Many of the parts of the CPR do not apply, specifically the rules on evidence, disclosure and Part 36 offers. Claims involving dishonesty, whatever their value, will not be allocated to the small claims track.
Only very limited costs are recoverable on the small claims track. These include court fees and experts' fees up to a limit of £200.
After allocation, the court will normally give directions, including the date for the final hearing. The hearing itself is usually informal and the normal rules of evidence do not apply; the court can adopt any procedure it believes will best dispose of the dispute.
CPR Part 27 and its practice direction govern procedure on the small claims track.
For more detail see Small claims track - case management.
Fast track - case management
Fast track claims are characterised by standard directions and a period of not more than 30 weeks between directions being given and trial. Parties can agree changes to most directions but must seek permission from the court in certain circumstances.
Fast track trials generally last no longer than one day and there are limits on the costs counsel can recover.
CPR Part 28 and its practice direction govern procedure on the fast track.
For more detail see Fast track - case management.
Multi-track - case management
If the multi-track claim is heard in the High Court, it will proceed in one of the High Court Divisions. Specialist courts exist within those divisions to hear specific types of cases (for example, the Technology and Construction Court is part of the Queen's Bench Division). Many of these divisions and courts publish their own guides setting out how the court will manage the claim.
The directions will be tailored to fit the type of the claim. The general order of events is as follows:
case management conference (including giving directions)
assignment of judge
following directions (disclosure, exchange of witness statements, exchange of expert reports)
CPR Part 29 and its practice direction govern procedure on the fast track.
For more detail see Multi-track - case management.
Multi-track - case management conferences
In most multi-track cases, the court will hold a CMC to decide how the claim will be managed. CMCs with a time estimate of less than an hour in a district registry or county court will be dealt with by telephone. Matters to be covered at the CMC are:
reviewing of the progress of any directions given so far
giving directions about future steps
hearing any applications
The court may order that a case summary be drafted by the claimant and agreed with the other parties in advance of the CMC. This is designed to assist the court in understanding and dealing with the questions before it.
The parties' legal representatives must attend the CMC, together with counsel, if instructed.
For more detail see Multi-track CMCs.
Case management in the Commercial Court
The Commercial Court is a specialist court within the Queen's Bench Division. All cases in the Commercial Court are treated as multi-track cases but only certain parts of CPR Part 29 apply. Key features of case management in this court are:
statements of case exchanged within fixed periods
a case memorandum, list of issues and case management bundle must be produced at the start of the case and maintained by the parties throughout the life of the claim
a mandatory case management conference will be held at which the requirements of the case will be discussed with counsel and a timetable for directions agreed
a progress monitoring date is the point at which the court considers whether or not the directions have been complied with. Prior to that date, the parties must provide information to the court on the status of the directions and whether or not they are ready for trial
CPR 58, CPR PD 58 and the Admiralty and Commercial Courts Guide governs case management in the Commercial Court.
For more detail see Case management in the Commercial Court.
Case management conferences in the Commercial Court
It is the claimant's responsibility to apply for a CMC. Often counsels' clerks will make the application and fix the date. Most conferences are conducted by way of an oral hearing at court but paper applications are possible where the case is 'out of the ordinary'; possibly those that do not rely on expert evidence or where the parties can agree on the directions sought.
The following documents must be filed in advance of the CMC:
14 days in advance - agenda
7 days in advance:
list of issues
case management information sheet
case management bundle
24 hours in advance - statement of costs (where an application is being heard)
Clients are not required to attend the CMC but solicitors and counsel must attend.
For more detail see CMCs in the Commercial Court.
Commercial Court – list of issues
Following service of the defence and reply (if any) each party must produce to the court a draft list of issues identifying what is common ground between the parties. This draft needs to be provided to the court prior to the first Case Management Conference. It is important to be aware of not only the requirement for this document which is pivotal to the court’s case management of the case but also the information that should be provided within it. Information in relation to the List of Issues is set out in the Admiralty and Commercial Court Guide at section D6.
For more detail see Commercial court – list of issues.
In transferring a claim between courts, the court will take into account:
the financial value of the claim
convenience of hearings
availability of judges to deal with the type of claim
level of complexity of matters
public importance of outcome
facilities available at the court
possibility that a declaration of incompatibility under the Human Rights Act may arise
in the case of civil proceedings by or against the Crown: the location of the government department and also any relevant public interest that the matter should be tried in London
Some claims will be automatically transferred to the defendant's home town eg where the defendant is an individual.
Specialist courts have their own criteria for transfer.
For more detail see Transferring proceedings.
Adding and substituting parties
A party may be added if it is desirable to resolve all the issues in the dispute or an issue between an existing party and the new party that is connected to the dispute.
A party will be substituted if the existing party's liability has passed to the new party and it is desirable to resolve all the issues in the dispute.
A party will generally only be added or substituted outside the limitation period where that period had not expired when the claim form was issued and the addition or substitution is necessary.
For more detail see Adding and substituting parties
Change of solicitor
Where a party changes solicitor, the former solicitor's address remains as the address for service for that party until a notice of change is filed and served or the court makes an order that the solicitor has ceased to act.
A party can also apply for an order that another party's solicitor ceases to act.
For more detail see Change of solicitor.
Only a claimant can discontinue an action. This may be because:
facts have come to light meaning that the claimant cannot prove the claim (perhaps a 'smoking gun' has been found)
the claimant may not wish certain facts to come to light at trial for commercial reasons
the defendant has a knock-out defence
the claimant has no further funds to fight the claim
In certain circumstances the court's permission will be needed to discontinue.
Discontinuance will take effect:
when the Notice of Discontinuance is served (where permission is not needed), or
when the court makes the order (where permission is needed)
For more detail see Discontinuance.
Notice to admit facts
Once the statements of case have been served by all parties it is a good time to review the case generally to take stock of the action as a whole. As part of this review it is sensible to consider whether it is appropriate to serve a notice to admit facts. A notice asks the other side to admit facts in the case, with a view to saving time and costs.
For more detail see Notice to admit facts.
Derivative actions can be brought by shareholders against a director for breach of the duty to exercise reasonable care, skill and diligence, even if the director has not benefited personally. It is not necessary for the claimant to show that the directors in breach control a majority of the company’s shares.
The procedure is set out in CPR 19.9 - CPR 19.9F.
For more detail see Derivative actions.
European small claims procedure
EC Regulation 861/2007 sets out the procedure for pursuing cross-border claims for EUR2000 or less. The procedure cannot be used in all disputes. The Civil Procedure Rules sets out the procedure for making the application to the court. The dispute will be dealt with without a hearing if possible. The court's judgment will be enforceable subject to any appeal.
For more detail see European small claims procedure (in force since 1 January 2009).
Transcripts - High Court
It should be possible to obtain a transcript of any hearing in open court by appointing a transcriber and completing the relevant form. It is also possible to arrange for 'live' or 'real time' recordings of court hearings though these must be arranged in advance of the hearings.
For more detail see Transcripts - High Court.
To find out more about PSL Contact us or call 0207 400 2984