The Civil Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2021 (CPR) come into effect today, 6 April 2021. The 127th Practice Direction Update (PD) came into effect variously on 29 January 2021, 30 March 2021 and 6 April 2021. A summary of the main changes to the CPR and PD is outlined below.
Overriding Objective and PD 1A
CPR1.1 Overriding Objective is amended and the new PD 1A on Participation of Vulnerable Parties or Witnesses supplements CPR Part 1.
The new overriding objective requires more attention to be given when ensuring that the parties can participate fully to the proceedings, that they are on equal footing and that the parties and their witnesses can give their best advice.
PD 1A contains a non-exhaustive list of factors which may cause vulnerability, including age, language difficulties, disability, mental health, social, domestic or cultural circumstances. The court should consider the ability of the party or witness to understand the proceedings, express themselves, comply with court requests and attend any hearing.
The court should also consider whether vulnerability will diminish the quality of evidence or the participation of a party or witness. If appropriate, the court may order “ground rules” before they give evidence, which can include directions regarding the conduct of the advocates or other parties in respect of that person’s evidence.
CPR Part 70 is amended to fill the gap that foreign judgments (including those from EU Member States) require registration in order to be enforceable. Such a judgment is to be treated for enforcement purposes as if it were a High Court or County Court judgment.
No Collateral Use of Evidence
CPR 32.12 is amended so that neither witness statements nor affidavits may be used “collaterally” outside the proceedings in which they are served (affidavits were not previously included in this provision).
Practice Direction 55C Extended
A new CPR 55C provision will allow for PDs to modify the CPR on a temporary basis, to respond to court work arising from emergencies, whether related to Covid-19 or otherwise.
PD 55C paragraphs 1.1, 2.6 and 5.3 have been amended so that the “interim period” remains in effect until 30 July 2021 (extended beyond the original end date of 28 March 2021). PD55C also amends the end of the period for filing and service of a reactivation notice (and related requirements) 30 April 2021 (from 29 January 2021).
Service out of the jurisdiction
PD 6B is amended following Brexit on service of a claim form outside the UK so that permission to serve the claim form is not required in cross border civil and commercial cases where an applicant is seeking to rely upon the ‘Choice of Court Agreements’ (which deals with reciprocal arrangements as to court venue and enforcement).
PD for the Debt Respite Scheme – comes into force on 4 May 2021
PD 70B (supplementing CPR rule 70.7) will be introduced. It will set out the procedure regarding the operation of the Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space). This scheme has been set up by HM Treasury, pursuant to the Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space Moratorium and Mental Health Crisis Moratorium) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020. It permits debt advisers to apply on a debtor’s behalf for up to 60 days of breathing space (in standard cases), in which no action or contact from creditors is permitted against debtors, regarding qualifying debts.
Procedure for Assessment of Costs and Default Provisions
PD 47 paragraph 19 is amended so that offerors of a Part 36 or other settlement offers should specify whether the includes the cost of preparing the bill and VAT. A non-Part 36 offer should clarify if it is inclusive of interest (Part 36 offers are treated as inclusive of interest under CPR 36.5(4)). Unless the offer states otherwise, it is treated as being inclusive of all of these. This provides clarity by creating a presumption that an offer is inclusive of all interest if the offer is silent on the point.
Electronic Working Pilot Scheme
PD 51O which is being trialled inter alia in the Business and Property Courts, as well as in the Rolls Building of the Royal Courts of Justice in London, is extended by one year to 6 April 2022.
PDA 51 A was a transitional provision when the CPR were first made. Those provisions are now spent, so the PD is revoked.
PD 51U Disclosure Pilot in the Business & Property Courts is modified in response to user feedback.
PD 51O Electronic filing and PD 51X Costs for Summary Assessment are both extended for a further year until 2022.
Witness Evidence in the Business & Property Courts
A new PD 57AC will be introduced to ensure that witness statements reflect the facts of the case at trial as opposed to a narrative.
Other minor corrections
Substitution of modernised wording in some provisions about costs, updates to the list of contents, clarifications on judgments in default in Admiralty proceedings.
- Substitution of words in PD 3E (Costs management);
- Substitution of words in paragraph 2A.1(a) of PD 45 (Fixed Costs): for “£90” substitute “£95”;
- Substitution of words in Appendix C of PD 27 (Small Claims Track): for “limit of £200” to “limit of £750”;
- Correcting a minor error in the Schedule of PD 2E (Jurisdiction of the county court that may be exercised by a legal advisor);
- Correcting a minor error in paragraph 2 of PD 2F (Court Sittings);
- Substitution of words in the table of contents in PD 71 (Orders to obtain information from Judgment Debtors);
- Repeal of the 1965 Nautical Assessors PD which is no longer relevant.
Please contact Robert Dougans if you have any questions relating to the above.