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Do the Civil Procedure Rules really achieve the Overriding Objective?

By September 1, 2014No Comments

My view is perhaps best reflected in the comment of Mr Justice Lightman in his conclusions in the matter of Evans v SMG Television and others [2003] All ER (D) 348 (Jun) at [287]:

“I feel impelled to conclude this judgment with a comment on the ever-increasing cost and complication of legal proceedings vividly exemplified in this case. The only real issues in this case are short and simple, namely whether the conduct of Mr Evans was such that the Defendants could no longer reasonably continue his engagement as star presenter of the Show and whether his conduct was damaging to Virgin Radio and SMG Jersey. To a layman these issues would appear to be of limited compass and capable of speedy and economic resolution. But they have for their resolution occasioned mammoth litigation and a twenty day trial at a horrendous cost to the parties. In an effort to save at least part of this cost, when this case first came before me on a case management conference a few days before the date fixed for the trial (far too late for an effective and cost saving exercise of case management powers) I ordered the parties to seek a solution through mediation, but this proved unsuccessful. The lateness of the attempt and the costs already incurred by both sides on the litigation may well have been a factor in the failure of the attempt. At the trial I was faced (as is the lot of trial judges today) with some thirty (frequently very lengthy) witness statements from the witnesses of fact, expert reports on both sides in four distinct disciplines, and over fifty (largely unread) heavy and tightly packed volumes of documents. Such “overkill” is the bane of modem day litigation. The overriding objective of the Civil Procedure Rules of conducting litigation in a way which saves expense (i.e. economically) has yet to find its full reflection in litigation practice. In the vain hope of cutting the case down to manageable proportions I suggested that little (if any) more was required to determine this case than to hear the cross- examination and re-examination of Mr Evans. Such an abbreviation of the trial (no doubt for good reasons) was not adopted. At the close of the case it is clear that Mr Evans’ evidence under cross-examination effectively decided the outcome of the litigation and Mr Vos in his final submissions acknowledged that this was so. This trial underlines the urgent need for a more economic and affordable trial process. Large trials are becoming increasingly unmanageable and unaffordable. This is very much a case in point.”

The aforesaid is not legal advice and is not to be relied upon as such. No liability is accepted by the writer for any reliance placed on the same.

If you have a specific query then you should seek independent legal advice on the same.

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