Lord Justice Briggs: Civil Courts Structure review published


Briggs LJ’s much-anticipated Civil Courts Structure Review: Final Report was published on 27.07.16.  The full report can be accessed here.  The final conclusions and recommendations are set out on pages 115 to 124.

Brief overview

Note the recommendations regarding the creation of the new ‘Online Court’ for claims up to £25,000 (with some exceptions and minimal lawyer involvement) and the increase in the current £100,000 threshold below which claims cannot be issued in the High Court, to £250,000 for all claims, with a view to raising it to £500,000 in the future.

Regional Connection

In his interim report published in January, Briggs wrote that all civil work with a regional connection should be judicially case managed and tried in the regions, regardless of value, with very limited specialist exceptions, such as patents.

When asked during various stakeholder meetings what was meant by “regional connection”, he responded that there is “no bright-line answer” to that question.  Determining jurisdiction depends on a “sufficient connection”.  This is a test used for determining the proper forum in other circumstances, including in insolvency situations.  Something akin to forum conveniens may be used and developed to identify whether there is a sufficient connection for the matter to be heard in a given location, e.g. parties/counsel/experts – depending upon whose movement around the country would have the greatest effect on the resolution of the case.  The aim is to establish where it will be most convenient for the case to be tried for those contributing to the resolution of the case.  It is a flexible concept, and there will be a number of factors to consider (including where the parties/witnesses/advisors, etc are).  It is not suggested that one factor should trump all others.

At a separate event, HHJ Bird (a Circuit Judge on the Northern Circuit and a member of Briggs’ review team) was asked the same question.  He responded that it is not necessarily where the solicitors or counsel are based, but (and gave some examples): (a) the locus of the dispute; (b) the trading address; (c) where will disclosure take place; (d) where are the witnesses/experts coming from.  It is a loose term – “the devil’s in the detail”.  It may be something for judges to decide.

The Final Report does not define or clarify what an “appropriate regional connection” is.  Generally the court has the power to transfer proceedings within the County Court, within the High Court and between the County Court and High Court, or vice versa.  The court must have regard to the matters set out in CPR 30.3 and will also have regard to the overriding objective, its duty to manage cases and financial limits.

Summary of a talk by Lord Justice Briggs (April 2016)

For a link to the event summary on The Future of Civil Justice by Lord Justice Briggs on 11th April 2016 please CLICK HERE.