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Disclosure reforms will 'change the culture' - Gloster

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 17:31

Far-reaching reforms being piloted next year will bring about a much needed ‘change in culture’ in relation to disclosure, Dame Elizabeth Gloster told the Law Society’s commercial litigation conference yesterday.

Gloster, who chaired the working group responsible for the changes, said the current rules made wide-ranging disclosure available in too many cases, and was simply not ‘fit for purpose’.

From 1 January, a two-year mandatory pilot of the new disclosure regime will begin in the Business and Property Courts in the Rolls Building in London, and the regional centres of Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle.

While wide disclosure will still be an option in appropriate cases, the new rules force parties to focus on what documents are really needed at a much earlier stage, and seek to avoid making the disclosure exercise any broader that it needs to be. The rules provide a new menu of five disclosure options.

Solicitor Ed Crosse, partner at City firm Simmons & Simmons and a member of the working group behind the reforms, told the conference that the hardest part of the new regime will be the list of disclosure issues that litigators must agree with the opposition. Lawyers must exchange a draft list of issues 42 days after the final statement of case, to be agreed before the case management hearing. If no agreement is reached, the parties will need to apply for a ‘disclosure guidance hearing’ to resolve the issue.

Crosse said: ‘This is likely to be the most challenging part, and there will be a natural tendency to make the list too broad’.

The pilot imposes new duties on lawyers in relation to disclosure, backed by sanctions. These include a duty to ‘take all reasonable steps’ to assist their client in complying with their disclosure obligations; and to ‘liaise and co-operate’ with the opposition lawyers ‘to promote the reliable, efficient, and cost-effective conduct of disclosure’.

Crosse said these duties had been imposed because solicitors had told the working group that they wanted them.

He said: ‘It may seem like turkeys voting for Christmas, for solicitors to be advocating for duties backed by sanctions, but that is the feedback that we got.’

Crosse added that solicitors felt the duties would be helpful where their opponent’s representatives were not co-operating in the disclosure exercise.

Mr Justice Robin Knowles, also speaking at the conference, added that the new regime would provide a benefit ‘in the international context’ by showing that England and Wales had not just tackled the problem, but was at the ‘cutting edge’ in how it deals with disclosure.

The pilot will apply in the Business and Property Courts excluding admiralty, public procurement, and Intellectual Property Enterprise Court cases, and cases under the shorter and flexible trials scheme or subject to fixed or capped costs.

It will be monitored by Professor Rachael Mulheron of Queen Mary University, and if successful, is likely to be adopted more broadly.

LiP-friendly small claims portal on course for April 2020

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 16:26

Head of the organisation implementing the system says it is not as complicated as people think.

'Manifestly excessive' anti-fracking jail sentences quashed

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 13:23

Conditional discharges for three protesters imprisoned in September for up to 16 months.

MPs call for review of 'patchwork' laws on dangerous dogs

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 12:14

Government urgend to commission independent review of current laws by January.

Government-sponsored panel launched to make UK 'LawTech capital'

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 11:17

Panel will tackle challenges in areas including commercial dispute resolution and education and training.

DIY probate provider ordered to halt 'limited offer' £29 claim

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 10:11

Advertising watchdog found cut-price offer had actually been in place for six years.

SRA given green light to pursue £800,000 Blavo intervention costs

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 08:21

Court of Appeal says there were no grounds to set aside statutory demands served on John Blavo.

Judge (partially) retains sanction for partial costs budget

Tue, 10/16/2018 - 16:27

But High Court ruling does allow for costs that had been agreed, as mistake was not deliberate.

‘We are at a pivotal point’: Bar Council adds voice to AGFS anger

Tue, 10/16/2018 - 16:12

Growing anger over revised fees scheme puts further pressure on government to increase its offer.

Munby troubled by Court of Protection cases being 'transferred up'

Tue, 10/16/2018 - 16:06

Former family division president says parents think senior judges will have more clout persuading public authorities to act.

Tribunal claims rise as progress made on plugging judicial gap

Tue, 10/16/2018 - 11:55

Early stage reports on the up since employment tribunal fees abandoned.

'What about quality?' Consumer watchdog bemoans focus on prices

Tue, 10/16/2018 - 11:40

Legal Services Consumer Panel says clients may be misled into equating high prices with better quality.

Family judge goes public to BBC on litigant in person headache

Tue, 10/16/2018 - 11:00

HHJ Wildblood says people representing themselves in court find the experience ‘very difficult’.

Woman whose daughter was threatened with custody by judge has convictions quashed

Tue, 10/16/2018 - 07:01

Appeal judges set aside convictions after finding judge’s conduct led defendant to think he had taken an adverse view of her case.

Solicitor targets dozens of law firms seeking leasehold compensation

Tue, 10/16/2018 - 06:00

Birmingham and Manchester firm sends notification letters on behalf of 500 people.

Leaseholders demand compensation from conveyancers over ground rent advice

Tue, 10/16/2018 - 06:00

Birmingham and Manchester firm sends notification letters on behalf of 500 people.

‘It’s breaking my heart’: Barristers say resumption of action ‘almost inevitable’

Mon, 10/15/2018 - 14:38

Criminal Bar Association says offer of investment is not ‘remotely enough’.

Ban for solicitor who covered up his mistakes

Mon, 10/15/2018 - 13:40

Martin Burnett forged signatures and created documents to avoid difficult conversations with clients and employers.

Harassment reports to SRA double in seven months

Mon, 10/15/2018 - 11:13

Regulator pledges to update guidance over settlement agreements and unfair contract terms.

News focus: Land Registry's charter for reform

Mon, 10/15/2018 - 01:01

Registry says it is putting customers first as it unveils initiatives to explore how ‘innovative use of technology could revolutionise the land registration and property buy-sell process’