The details of the 88th Update to the Civil Procedure Rules have now been released. The statutory instrument amending the rules, The Civil Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2017, can be found here and the changes to the practice directions here.

Most of the changes to the rules come in to force on 6 April 2017 except for rules 8(5), 9, 10 and 13(3), which come into force on 28 February 2017 and rules 5(1) to (9), 6, 7 and 13(1) and (2), which come into force on 6 March 2017.

 

The following amendments are of particular interest:

 

PD2C Starting proceedings in the County Court

The amendments to PD2C are made consequential on the closure of Bow, Brecon, Halifax, Hartlepool, King’s Lynn, Lowestoft, Reigate, Rhyl, Rotherham, Scunthorpe, St Albans, Tunbridge Wells and Warrington hearing centres, and the establishment of a hearing centre in Prestatyn.   The amendments come into force on 31 March 2017.  Consequential amendments are made to PD26, PD45, PD47 and PD52B.

 

New PD2E Jurisdiction of the County Court that may be exercised by a legal adviser

This new Practice Direction formalises the jurisdiction that may be exercised by a legal adviser under Practice Direction 51K (The County Court Legal Adviser Pilot Scheme), as well as extending that jurisdiction to include five new work types. The powers enable legal advisers in the County Court Business Centre and the County Court Money Claims Centre to deal with some items of “box work”, usually allocated to a District Judge (see the Schedule to the PD).  The PD comes into effect on 1 April 2017. Consequential amendments are made to PD23A, PD26, PD47 and PD74A. PD51K is omitted.

 

Part 3 The Court’s Case Management Powers and PD3B Sanctions for non-payment of fees

The rules are amended to reflect a policy change in the collection and refund of hearing fees.  Hearing fees will no longer be automatically refunded where parties settle the claim before trial.  The date at which the hearing fee becomes payable is moved closer to the trial date.   The amendments come into force on 6 March 2017.  The Civil Proceedings Fees (Amendment) Order 2016 provides details of the fees scheme. Consequential amendments are made to Part 25 and Part 44 and PD4 and  PD47.

 

Part 45 Fixed Costs

Amendments are made to reflect the Court of Appeal judgment in Qader & Ors v Esure Services Ltd and Khan and Anr v McGee[2016] EWCA Civ 1109.  The amendments come into force on 6 April 2017.

PD51K The County Court Legal Advisers Scheme

The Practice Direction is omitted with effect from 1 April 2017, see new PD2E Jurisdiction of the County Court that may be exercised by a legal adviser.