21 January 2016
New schemes to provide faster litigation outcomes
Commercial property disputes are well known for being complex and expensive to resolve, and the use of arbitration can sometimes lead to further dispute if the arbitrator is seen as coming down too heavily on one side.
In an effort to provide a way for disputes that are litigated in court to be resolved more quickly, the Royal Court of Justice has set up two new pilot schemes, which began in October 2015.
The schemes apply to disputes in the Chancery Division, the Commercial Court and the Technology and Construction Court, so can be used in almost all property-based disputes that meet the necessary criteria.
The 'Shorter Trials Scheme' is a voluntary scheme which targets smaller disputes. It reduces the volume of paperwork which the Court will need to consider and removes the need for a detailed costs budget to be prepared. An abbreviated system for the allocation of legal costs is also applied.
The 'Flexible Trials Scheme' is also voluntary. It allows the standard timetables applied to trials to be varied, and limits the oral evidence presented at trial and the number of submissions that are made, the intention being that only evidence that is crucial to the case is heard.
One of the key benefits of the proposals is that by limiting the length of trials, it is easier to list them for hearing in the court timetable.