Court Liaison Group

Working with the Court Service and the Judiciary

The Court Liaison Group (CLG) was set up by Sue Harris, a Director specialising in Commercial Litigation at Walker Morris LLP, and the first meeting took place on 31 July 2013.

The Leeds Law Society held an event on 17 July 2013 entitled “Meet the Judges”, and included a panel made up of: His Honour Judge Gosnell, District Judge Jordan, District Judge Goldberg, all representing the Leeds Court; Dianne Jackson-Penney the Delivery Manager of the Leeds Court Service, Heidi Sandy, then president of the Leeds Law Society and Sue Harris. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the challenges facing everyone involved in Civil Litigation following the Jackson Reforms.

Following the event, and with the support of District Judge Jordan, Sue Harris set up the CLG. There were expressions of interest from a number of solicitors in Leeds and the committee of eight, including practitioners from various areas of the Leeds legal community was established.

The purpose of the CLG is to liaise with the judiciary and the Court Service in Leeds in connection with matters of practice and procedure, and to work on specific documents or areas with a view to improving the working relationships between practitioners, the judiciary and the Court Service.

The initial task for the CLG was to work on the pre Cost and Case Management Conference (CCMC) Order (this was already in use by the District Judges in Leeds but we were given the opportunity to comment on it). The idea was that this document would deal with the fact that there appeared to be confusion amongst practitioners, who were adapting to the Jackson Reforms, when preparing for the first CCMC. It was hoped that this document would reduce the possibility of the hearing having to be adjourned or otherwise being ineffective.

It was also agreed with the District Judges (via District Judge Jordan and District Judge Goldberg) that it would be very useful to have a core bundle for the hearing (to contain the papers set out in the order and that were needed for the CCMC) that could be used by the parties and the Court for the CCMC and added to as the case progressed.

The final document was a compromise for both the practitioners and the District Judges but the liaison proved successful and it was acknowledged that it was worth continuing with the project. We have been informed by the District Judges that the CCMC has been adopted by other Courts in England and Wales.

Since September 2013 the following documents have been finalised or are in development:

  1. A CCMC lite (to take into account practitioner’s concerns about the amount of work necessary for full compliance with the CCMC Order in lower value cases);
  2. A local protocol to deal with various issues including an email protocol for contacting the District Judges and information about cost budgeting hearings;
  3. Frequently Asked Questions relating to the Court Service;
  4. A Court Notice Board on the Leeds Law Society website has been set up which can be accessed by any practitioner or Litigant in Person dealing with the Leeds Court. This continues to be a work in progress but includes specific sections dealing with: Precedents – this is to allow the District Judges to supply copies of precedents that they are using and would like practitioners to use; Events – this includes notes of the Meet the Judges events from 2013 and the follow up in June 2014; Court Service – this includes the FAQs and information about the new payments system being introduced by them. As soon as the Court has finalised the streamlining of contact phone numbers and email addresses this information will be included on this part of the site.

Future initiatives include:

Development of Family Law precedents and the addition of an area on the Court Notice Board on the Leeds Law Society website dedicated to Family Law issues.

In conjunction with other practitioners in Leeds producing an information sheet about local services available to Litigants in Person to help them with access justice, plus a dedicated section on the Court Notice Board for Litigants in Person (and for reference for those who are acting in cases where Litigants in Person are involved);
Extension of the local protocols and precedents to cover the specialist courts, including the Chancery, Mercantile and the Technology and Construction Courts.