One Month Today: Getting Ready for Jackson’s Civil Procedure Reforms

01 March 2013 by Daniel Kavan

Last week we posted an update outlining all the latest details of the new costs management rules and the e-disclosure menu of options coming into effect this Easter in England and Wales. The legal community has had mixed reactions to these changes, which are only a few weeks away and constitute a significant part of the implementation of the recommendations in the Jackson Review.  A quick Twitter search for hash tag #jacksonreforms  shows plenty of debate about the implementation.  Law costs draftsperson Timothy Phillips tweets, “the Jackson Reforms would be as easy to master (but more fun!) if they were published in jigsaw format.”

The Law Society Gazette reported that litigators think that the Ministry of Justice’s handling of new rules to support the reforms as ‘shambolic’ and ‘deeply concerning,’ not leaving enough time for practitioners to prepare.  But the Government has pushed back, and as PLC reported, it rejected calls to delay implementation.  Last minute changes to the amended rules which have exempted large-scale cases from cost management have had some wondering whether this should be the case.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Some of the changes will provide more flexibility in the way litigation is carried out. For example, rather than standard disclosure burdening parties in litigation, the court will decide whether to dispense with or limit disclosure, or any other order the court considers appropriate.  An analysis of the implications on practice, by my colleagues Tracey Stretton and James Morrey-Jones in conjunction with Eversheds Partner Mark Surguy, was recently published by the Society of Computers & Law. It also suggests some great ideas about how cutting edge technology could be used to do disclosure upside down, by handing the keys to the warehouse to the other side and jointly training a machine learning system on what kind of documents are relevant, and then letting the computer sort through the warehouse and decide what’s relevant and what’s not.

The rule change certainly provides an opportunity to think about litigation and disclosure with a fresh mind. To that end, on Thursday morning, March 21st, I will be hosting a breakfast seminar at which Senior Master Steven Whitaker will look at what has changed and why and what the implications might be on a panel with Pinsent Masons’ edisclosure expert Andrew Herring, Hudson Legal’s Director of edisclosure Tom Moore, and Kroll Ontrack’s Rob Jones.  I would encourage you to come along, enjoy breakfast on me, and contribute to the debate or listen to what the experts have to say.

What’s your reaction to the reforms? Please comment below.