Civil Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2021 & the 127th Practice Direction Update
The Statutory Instrument is being published via the Legislation website at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk. The on-line rules/web site will also be updated accordingly.
Civil Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2021 enter into force 06 April 2021.
This SI contains rule changes in respect of:
- Vulnerable witnesses: amends the CPR’s Overriding Objective, following the recommendation in the report by the Civil Justice Council on Vulnerable Witnesses (published in February 2020) in civil proceedings. The amendment makes it clear that dealing with a case justly includes ensuring that the parties can participate fully, and that parties and witnesses can give their best evidence. It also deals with the costs (not Fixed Recoverable Costs) provision for additional work or expense incurred due to vulnerability of a party or witness.
- Service out of the jurisdiction: provides for consequential amendments following Brexit on service of a claim form outside the UK so that permission to serve the claim form is not required in cross border civil and commercial cases where an applicant is seeking to rely upon the ‘Choice of Court Agreements’ (which deals with reciprocal arrangements as to court venue and enforcement). This change was a recommendation from the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Private International Law.
- Evidence: the case of Official Receiver v Skeene  EWHC 1252 (Ch) highlighted that currently CPR 32.12 prevents collateral use of witness statements outside the proceedings in which they are served, but there is no equivalent for affidavits. For consistency this amendment provides for the rule regarding collateral use to apply also to affidavits.
- Offers to Settle: following inconsistency in case law, the rule change provides clarity, particularly for litigants in person, that an offer to settle (a “Part 36 offer”) can include accruals of interest but where it is silent on this point, the presumption will be that the offer is inclusive of all interest.
- Judgments: Part 70 is amended to fill a gap in relation to foreign judgments not requiring registration in order to be enforceable (which will include judgments from EU member states for an extended period as a result of the transitional provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement). The amendment clarifies that such a judgment is to be treated for enforcement purposes as if it were a judgment of the High Court or County Court.
- Temporary modifications for coronavirus or other emergency: a new provision is introduced allowing for PDs to modify the rules on a temporary basis to respond to the work of the courts arising from emergencies.
- Debt respite scheme (Breathing space): a new rule is introduced to allow for a PD to provide the court procedure in relation to the operation of the Debt Respite Scheme introduced by HM Treasury and due to come into force in May 2021.
- Amendments arising from changes in contempt proceedings in the Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 3) Rules 2020: consequential changes which substitute, amend, replace or update Rules in Part 65 (on Anti-Social Behaviour and Harassment orders), Part 71 ( on Orders to Obtain Information from Judgment Debtors); Part 74 (on Enforcement of judgements in different jurisdictions), Part 83 (on Writs and Warrants – general provision) and Part 89 (on Attachment of Earnings).
- Other minor matters/corrections: substitution of modernised wording in some provisions about costs; updates to the list of contents; clarifications on judgments in default in Admiralty proceedings.
127th Practice Direction Update (coming into force variously from 29 January 2021, 30 March 2021 & 06 April 2021)
The Master of the Rolls and the Courts Minister have signed the PD Update.
The amendments made by the 127th PD Update concern:
- Possession Proceedings: amendments are made, in the light of operational experience, to PD55C to extend the interim period from 28 March 2021 to 30 July 2021 and to alter the end of the period for filing and service of a reactivation notice (and related requirements) from 29 January 2021 to 30 April 2021.
- Vulnerable Parties and Witnesses: a new PD1A makes provision for how courts will give effect to the amended Overriding Objective in relation to vulnerable parties or witnesses.
- Service out of jurisdiction: in consequence of the changes contained in the Civil Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2021, PD6B is amended to give effect to this rule permitting service out without permission of the court.
- Offers to settle a claim: in consequence of the changes set out at 5.4 above, PD47 is amended so that a “Part 36 offer (to settle a claim)” should not be permitted to exclude interest.
- Pilots: (i) PD 51U Disclosure Pilot in the Business & Property Courts is modified in response to user feedback and (ii) PD 51O Electronic filing and (iii) PD 51X Costs for Summary Assessment are both extended for a further year.
- PD51A made transitional provision when the CPR were first made in 1998. Those provisions are now spent, so the PD is revoked.
- Contempt consequentials: it follows that the following PDs require modification, PD3E (Costs management), PD27 (Small Claims track), PD510 (Electronic Pilot working scheme), PD51X (New statements of cost for summary assessment pilot), PD56 (Landlord and tenant claims and miscellaneous provisions about land) and PD 71 (Orders to obtain information from Judgment Debtors).
- Witness Evidence in the Business & Property Courts (BPC): a new PD 57AC to ensure that witness statements reflect the facts of the case at trial as opposed to a narrative.
- Debt respite scheme (Breathing Space): introduces PD70B as part of the related provisions contained in the Civil Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2021, together with consequential changes to PD 4 (court forms).
- Other minor amendments: repeal of the 1965 Nautical Assessors PD which is no longer relevant; correcting a minor error to Sec 6 of the Schedule in PD2E (Jurisdiction of the county court that may be exercised by a legal advisor) and para 2 of PD 2F(Court Sittings); substitutions of words in PD 3E (Costs Management) and in PD 45 (Fixed Costs).
Forms – The following forms have been either created or modified as part of this update:
- The Reactivation Notice (a template form issued by HMCTS) has been updated to reflect the changes to PD55C and is available from Gov.uk
Form N510, ‘Notice for Service out of the jurisdiction where permission of the court is not required’) and other forms (notably in consequence of Brexit) will be released (via Gov.uk) in due course