Civil Justice Reforms Breakfast Seminar

22 May 2013 by Daniel Kavan

Yesterday morning Kroll Ontrack hosted a breakfast seminar in Manchester in conjunction with the law firm Hill Dickinson LLP. We heard His Honour Judge Waksman QC (Manchester Mercantile Court) and His Honour Judge Davies (Manchester Technology and Construction Court) share their views on the impact of the cost management and disclosure aspects of the Jackson Reforms in their courts.

We discussed what impact the changes have had a month and a half into the period since implementation to compare experiences and to get an understanding of the types of orders judges are handing down.

Interestingly, the judges agreed that despite the menu of disclosure options now available to litigants, standard disclosure would still be the appropriate order in most cases. Rather than changing the type of disclosure order, Judge Davies said, the Court would take an active role specifying the extent of the search that should be carried out.   Judge Waksman stressed that the Disclosure Report was not intended to be a document that practitioners need to labour over, and a high level list of the classes of documents available will suffice.

Budgeting for standard disclosure on the Disclosure Report provides a bench mark upon which the approach to disclosure can be agreed by the parties and this is all that is required. Whilst there is a menu of disclosure options, there is no need to submit a menu of costs!

In relation to cost management, Judge Waksman said that the new rules do not represent a great watershed, pointing to the fact that the cost management pilot had helped to embed cultural change.

We discussed how there is real value in examining each party's budget in order to be well prepared and ensure that the Case Management Conference is a meaningful exercise. Advance planning will pay dividends.

The court will not simply approve all directions that have been agreed by parties, but take an active role as cost management feeds into case management. Nevertheless, it is not intended that the examination of budgets will be a 'gargantuan exercise' nor a detailed assessment of costs. Judge Waksman expects that in his court these discussions will add an extra 10 minutes to the CMC, or 20 minutes if more complex and that in very many cases, the budget will be approved with few changes if any.

Kroll Ontrack led a discussion with panelists - Hudson Legal's Tom Moore and the head of Hill Dickinson LLP's litigation practice, Geraldine Ryan - to recommend the best ways to approach budgeting and disclosure in this environment.

The new rules place emphasis on early preparation and getting to grips with the likely challenges ahead. Working together it is possible to make logical decisions and apply the best technologies to evaluate risk, decide the optimum strategy and control costs.   As Judge Waksman pointed out in his closing comments there is no need for litigators to be afraid of the changes.

Daniel Kavan and Rob Jones would like to thank Judge Waksman and Judge Davies, Hill Dickinson LLP and our managed review partner Hudson Legal for helping us put together an enlightening seminar particularly relevant for Manchester litigators and their clients.