Disclosure pilot will make system ‘more flexible’

07 Aug 2018

This briefing has been published by The Times on 02 August 2018.

Evidence disclosure in commercial disputes will have to be made earlier and in more detail under a forthcoming pilot scheme, lawyers claimed yesterday.

Under a scheme announced on Monday, standard disclosure will be replaced by two categories: initial and extended. The former is described in by the disclosure working group as “not intended to be an onerous process and that it should normally comprise no more than 200 documents or 1,000 pages.

The working party, chaired by Dame Elizabeth Gloster, the former Court of Appeal judge, said that a two-year pilot scheme will run at the business and property courts in the Rolls Building of the High Court in London from the beginning of next year. Other pilot scheme will run in Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle.

Alex Sciannaca, a partner at the London office of the transatlantic law firm Hogan Lovells, said that under the proposed regime, “lawyers and their clients will need to discuss issues requiring disclosure earlier and in more detail.

“They will also need to confirm what documents exist relating to those issues and how they might be searched and reviewed, including what technology to use in order to control the costs of the process.”

However, Mr Sciannaca predicted that under the updated rules the disclosure process would be “flexible, tailored and fit for the modern digital world, while keeping the cards on the table approach that gives the English courts a guarantee of judicial excellence and integrity”.

Ed Crosse, a partner at the City law firm Simmons & Simmons, said: “Other jurisdictions are following this initiative with interest and no doubt will seek to emulate it, but that takes time.

“These new rules should help ensure that our courts continue to be regarded as innovative, and highly attractive for domestic and overseas clients with disputes to resolve, especially in a post-Brexit era.”

Sir Geoffrey Vos, the chancellor of the High Court, said he was “delighted that the disclosure pilot is now being brought into effect”. The judge described the project as a “much-needed and far-sighted reform.

“There will now be a menu of options available to litigants so that disclosure can be targeted appropriately to the kind of case that is being litigated.

“This is an example of the business and property courts responding to the legitimate concerns and expectations of their users. I much look forward to seeing the results of the pilot”.

Other coverage on this topic:
Litigation Futures
The Law Society Gazette
New Law Journal

For more information, please read our original press release on this topic