PI parties urged to keep exchanging budgets
Parties in personal injury cases should continue exchanging their costs budgets if possible, according to an agreed set of “standard practices” issued jointly last week by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and Forum of Insurance Lawyers (FOIL).
The guidance aims to ensure co-operation and communication between opposing sides during the coronavirus crisis. It also recommends that firms should temporarily agree to accept service by email and freeze limitation periods, while extending time periods by consent.
The Civil Procedure Rule Committee also last week issued a practice direction allowing parties to agree longer extensions of time to comply with procedural time limits.
New practice direction 51ZA says that, until 30 October, the provision in CPR rule.3.8 allowing parties to agree an extension of up to 28 days has been doubled to 56 days.
Any extension of time beyond 56 days requires the permission of the court. An application for permission will be considered on the papers, and a reconsideration at a hearing.
CLSB moves ahead with rules reform
The Costs Lawyer Standards Board (CLSB) is to move ahead with the changes to the practising rules outlined in its recent consultation.
It said five individual Costs Lawyers responded to the consultation, along with the Legal Services Consumer Panel, while ACL Training replied only to say it had no comments.
The one change the CLSB has made is in response to the issue raised by the consumer panel about a new rule which would allow the CLSB to remove a condition on a practising certificate if it was no longer in the public interest for the condition to be maintained.
The panel suggested this should be wider and so the revised rule will provide that the CLSB may remove a condition only if it is no longer satisfied that any of the grounds in rule 3.4 for imposing a condition apply. These grounds will include that “the Costs Lawyer is putting, or is likely to put, at risk the interests of clients, third parties or the public”.
The revised rules will now go to the Legal Services Board for approval.
Hearings guidance from Manchester
The Chancery division in Manchester has issued useful guidance on hearings that answers some of the questions members have been raising:
“Where parties are represented hearings will proceed remotely except where absolutely necessary. If any or all parties believe a face-to-face hearing is absolutely necessary they should issue an application seeking directions on the point. Any such application is likely to be dealt with on paper. A draft consent order endorsed by the parties will not suffice.
“Where there is to be a remote hearing it is for the claimant to make the necessary arrangements to facilitate such remote hearing.
“In that case parties are to consider BTMeet Me; Skype for Business and BT conference calling.
“Where in any case there is a party who is unrepresented, it is the responsibility of the represented party to make arrangements with that unrepresented party for a remote hearing.
“Where both or all parties are unrepresented it is for both or all parties to agree that the hearing can proceed by telephone. It is for the claimant in any case to arrange the remote telephone hearing.
“If any or all parties are of the view that a face-to-face hearing is required or that a remote hearing is impractical where there are no exceptional circumstances to justify a face-to-face hearing during the current COVID-19 pandemic and Government restrictions, an application to adjourn should be issued. In this situation a draft consent order endorsed by the parties may be appropriate.
“It is ultimately a matter for the judge dealing with any hearing to give further or alternative directions.
“In light of limited court resources at this time, it is for the parties and not the court staff to make the arrangements for a remote hearing and to notify the court of those arrangements NO LATER THAN 48 HOURS BEFORE THE HEARING. It is for the parties to liaise. In the absence of agreement to such arrangements, or a reasoned explanation for refusing to participate in a remote hearing, then the hearing will necessarily be adjourned and may have costs consequences.”
The newsletter will not be published next week. During these strange and most worrying of times, we hope members have a safe and enjoyable Easter.