Litigation Update: Disclosure Pilot Scheme
The Business and Property Courts of England and Wales are expected to launch a pilot scheme in 2018 for new rules governing disclosure in civil claims. The proposed new rules are going through a period of feedback until February 2018 and the pilot is expect to commence shortly thereafter.
The pilot, and the proposed changes, will remove the assumption in civil claims that Standard Disclosure simply applies and will require the parties to consider disclosure in much more detail. This will include identifying key issues in the claim and thereafter determining what type of disclosure (from a new ‘menu’ of disclosure options) is required for each issue.
It is proposed that the pilot will run in the Business and Property Courts (including Chancery, the Commercial Court and the Technology and Construction Court) and commentators expect the changes to go ahead thereafter (albeit subject to some amendments). It is also understood that the pilot has the backing of the Master of the Rolls.
The proposed changes are set out within a draft ‘Practice Direction’. Accompanying the Practice Direction is a form, the ‘Disclosure Review Document’, which is to be used in conjunction with the pilot scheme. The Disclosure Review Document is a comprehensive form that sets out what steps the parties need to take and when. The proposed Practice Direction and Disclosure Review Document can be found on the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary website (www.judiciary.gov.uk).
These proposed changes will mark a significant departure from the existing rules. Whilst it appears the process will become more involved than the current system, the new scheme will force the parties to consider disclosure at an early stage in the case. Compelling the parties to identify the key issues in the case, just 21 days after receipt of the Defence, may have wider benefits than simply determining what type of disclosure is required. In addition, determining the type of disclosure required for each issue, at an early stage, is likely to reduce the number of unnecessary documents that are currently being disclosed. It is expected that this will, in turn, reduce the overall costs of the exercise.
The proposed changes are still in the very early stages and we would expect a number of amendments to be made before they come into force, so at this stage it is simply a matter of ‘watch this space’!
Andrews Ritson solicitors have a team that specialise in dispute resolution, which includes claims at court. If you would like to discuss an existing, or potential claim please call Jason Round on 01746 769 700. Alternatively, email Jason at firstname.lastname@example.org.