Civil Justice Council Begins Review of Pre-Action Protocols

The Civil Justice Council (CJC) has launched a comprehensive review of all 17 Pre-Action Protocols (PAPs), including the Practice Direction – Pre-Action Conduct, which are currently in force. The CJC is chaired by the Master of the Rolls, and its main function is to advise the Lord Chancellor, judges and the Civil Procedure Rule Committee on all matters related to civil law in the jurisdiction. The review will examine the purpose of the PAPs, their efficacy and areas which might require reform.

There are 10 Provisional Terms of Reference to the review, which is intended particularly to look into how PAPs work for litigants in person and litigants of limited means. The CJC is especially interested in the impact of costs associated with compliance with the PAPs, the potential use of PAPs in online dispute resolution, and how the PAPs might be streamlined.

The first stage of the review is an online survey to which responses are currently being invited. This is aimed to be a fact-finding exercise, to canvass the views of court users as to whether the PAPs are fair and useful. Replies are welcomed from across the spectrum, from judges, lawyers, litigants, academics and representative bodies who work within the civil justice sphere.

The CJC plans to release an interim report thereafter, following which an opportunity to submit detailed submissions shall be available.

Amongst the 10 Provisional Terms of Reference, notable questions include:

  • “What function should PAPs perform in the 2020s?”
  • “Should all/any PAPs be mandatory?” “What should the sanctions for non-compliance be?”
  • “Should there be any changes to PAPs as a result of the HMCTS reform programme and the digitisation of the civil justice system generally?”

The survey closes on Friday 18 December 2020.

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