The Civil Procedure Rule Committee (CPRC) is to create a ‘brevity, clarity and simplicity’ sub-committee as part of work to make the CPR easier for litigants in person and lay users to understand.
Modernising the rules on service and encouraging alternative dispute resolution (ADR) are also among six priorities identified for the CPRC’s outline strategy for the future.
According to the newly published minutes of the CPRC’s April meeting, it recognised that the duty to maintain and simplify the rules was “essentially a never-ending project” and that “the challenges of delivering simplicity should not be underestimated” – it was “often time intensive and complex”.
The six main themes agreed by the CPRC were: simplification of the rules; continuing digitisation of civil justice; modernising the rules on service; whether to extend paper adjudication of some small claims; encouragement of ADR; and litigants in person and McKenzie friends.
Work on ADR and McKenzie friends will not being until have been considered by the Civil Justice Council, but the CPRC agreed to create three new sub-committees.
The provisionally named brevity, clarity and simplicity sub-committee’s guiding principles will be “to remove repetition and prolix; tackle the outstanding provisions previously contained in the Rules of the Supreme Court 1965 and the County Court Rules 1981 (scheduled under CPR part 50); and focus more sharply on drafting with the litigant in person/lay user in mind”.
The part 6 service sub-committee “will likely need to liaise” with the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Private International Law (formerly known as the Mance committee), while there will also be a sub-committee looking at the paper adjudication of some small claims
The minutes recorded that Mr Justice Kerr, who led the work on the outline strategy, “emphasised that this outline strategy was not intended to limit the CPRC’s forthcoming work or other initiatives”.
Kerr J is also to chair a judicial review sub-committee in the event of the government’s controversial proposals following the Faulks review – which are currently subject to consultation – are taken forward.
Fellow CPRC members His Honour Judge Jarman QC and Tom Montagu-Smith QC, a commercial litigator at XXIV Old Buildings, will also be on the sub-committee, with Mr Justice Swift, judge in charge of the Administrative Court, likely to be co-opted.
Separately, the March minutes of the CPRC indicate that the practice directions under part 54 are to be redrafted in light of concerns among the senior judiciary that pleadings and skeleton arguments in public law cases have become “too lengthy and too complex”.