Last edited 29 Oct 2016

Civil procedure rules

Contents

[edit] Introduction

The civil procedure rules (CPR) constitute a procedural code governing civil litigation and helping courts deal with civil cases justly. Introduced by the Civil Procedure Act 1997, they came into force in 1999 and are used by the Court of Appeal, High Court of Justice and County Courts in England and Wales.

There are also criminal procedure rules and family procedure rules.

CPR replaced the old rules of the Supreme Court and County Court Rules, and sought to improve access to justice by speeding up the process and lowering the cost of legal proceedings, as well as making them easier for laypeople to understand.

They are divided into 74 parts, each of which has several rules, along with practice directions that apply to each part.

According to Part 1 Rule 1, the court’s overriding objective is to deal with cases justly; in other words, preserving equality of the disputing parties and ensuring the case is handled fairly. An obligation is imposed on the parties to help the court in this objective.

Civil cases can be heard in one of the following courts:

[edit] Small claims track

This is for claims with a value of not more than £10,000. Small claims hearings are informal and the strict evidence rules do not apply. People may issue claims for a variety of reasons, including:

[edit] Fast track

This is for claims with a value of between £10,000-£25,000, and which can be disposed of by a trial which will not take longer than one day. Cases allocated to the fast track typically include claims such as those by tenants for orders requiring their landlord to carry out repairs or other work to the premises.

[edit] Multi track

This is for claims with a value of more than £25,000. Cases can also be allocated where the value may be less but they involve complex points of law and/or evidence.

[edit] Proceedings

A claim form is issued on the defendant by the court on the request of the claimant to start proceedings. A statement of the claim must be contained within the claim form, as well as the particulars of the claim, and the remedy sought, whether for money or otherwise. The claim form must be served on the defendant within 4 months of the issue arising (this can extend to 6 months if the service is to a foreign jurisdiction).

The defendant can respond, within 14 days after service of the particulars of the claims form, in one of the following ways:

  • File an acknowledgement of service.
  • File or serve an admission.
  • File a defence.

If the defendant fails to respond in one of these ways, then they will be subject to a Judgment in Default.

If the defendant files acknowledgement of service, the defendant must state which allegations are admitted, which they are unable to admit, and which they deny. A statement of truth must verify the defence. In accordance with CPR Part 20, a defendant can also issue a counterclaim.

The court starts active management of the case as soon the defence is filed.

[edit] Pre-action protocols

Pre-action protocols are included in the annexes of the CPR and explain the conduct and set out the steps parties should take before commencing proceedings of civil claims.

The aim of pre-action protocols is to encourage early dispute settlement without needing the court’s involvement, thereby saving time and money for both the defendant and claimant. By encouraging early exchange of information, the parties can understand more clearly the implications of the dispute. The court will expect parties to have exchanged information sufficient for the following conditions to have been achieved:

  • An understanding of each other’s position.
  • Decisions made about how to proceed.
  • Attempts made to settle without proceedings.
  • Consideration of a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
  • Reduce the costs of resolving the dispute.

Pre-action protocols specific to the built environment include:

[edit] Construction and engineering disputes

This protocol applies to all construction and engineering disputes (including professional negligence claims against architects, engineers and quantity surveyors).

[edit] Housing disrepair cases

This protocol applies to residential property and relates to claims by tenants and others in respect of housing disrepair. The tenants must ensure that the landlord is aware of the disrepair before using the protocol, as it is only intended for cases where the matter remains unresolved.

The aim of the protocol is to promote the quick and appropriate carrying out of repairs which are the landlord’s responsibility, and ensure tenants receive any entitled compensation.

[edit] Possession claims based on mortgage or home purchase plan arrears in respect of residential property

Under CPR, ‘possession claim’ means a claim for the recovery of possession of property. ‘Home purchase plan’ refers to a method of purchasing a property by way of a sale and lease arrangement that does not require the payment of interest.

The aim of the protocol is to ensure lenders and borrowers act fairly and reasonably in resolving any mortgage or home purchase plan arrears dispute.

[edit] Possession claims by social landlords

This protocol applies to residential possession claims by social landlords and private registered providers of social housing. This can relate to claims for rent arrears, or where the court’s discretion to postpone possession is limited by s89(1) Housing Act 1980.

[edit] Claims for damages in relation to the physical state of commercial property at termination of a tenancy

Otherwise known as the 'Dilapidations Protocol', this applies to claims for damages for dilapidations against tenants of commercial property. ‘Dilapidations’, ‘repair’ and ‘redecoration’ are not defined by the protocol, as work that may be required will be held to depend on the lease’s contractual terms.

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