Case management conference
The case management conference is a hearing which is taking place for the purposes of deciding to take further steps in the case. Case management conference is usually taking place when the case is more complex and involves a lot of issues to consider and decide. The timetable for certain steps which need to be taken has to be fixed in order to deal with the case expeditiously. As in accordance with the Civil Procedure rules, the representatives who attend the case management conference must familiarise themselves with the case and all issues it involves in order to understand the case. If the representative does not attend the case management conference, and as a result the conference is postponed, wasted costs order may follow. Therefore it is important to attend the conference. Case management conference can occur at different stages of the proceedings. These being the stage when the directions are set, that is in order to decide on further steps to be taken in the proceedings or also later in the proceedings when it is necessary to assess what the progress of the case is and maybe to set further directions with regards to the further steps which has to be taken. The court should give the parties at least three days notice of the case management conference. As in accordance with the Practice Direction 29 to Civil Procedure Rules, the court may consider several issues at this conference these are for instance; whether the claimant made the claim clear to the court citing appropriate amount he is claiming for, whether any amendments are required to be made to the claim, what disclosure of documents is necessary if any at all, what expert evidence is required, what factual evidence should be disclosed, whether there are any arrangements necessary for a further clarification of the issues arising, whether it will be just and will save costs if a spit trial was ordered or the trial of preliminary issues.
The parties are also required to consider whether the case summary will be required for the case management conference. The case summary is a document consisting of less than 500 words which is prepared by the Claimant and will actually assist the court to better understand the issues in the case and to make it easier for the court to deal with those issues raised. The case summary should contain for instance a chronology of the claim, issues which are disputed and those which are agreed and the evidence which is needed in order to decide them. If the parties are able to agree on the directions, and the court approves the directions, then there is no need for a case management conference to take place. Such a solution will support early settlement which is in accordance with the overriding objective and Civil Procedure Rules. In case that there are unusual directions which are requested, an application notice should be served and this should be heard at the case management conference.
Variation of directions
If the parties decide to apply for an extension, this should be done by way of a written agreement. However if there is a provision preventing such an action it cannot be taken. If one of the parties is in default the parties should try to fix a new timetable and cooperate. Such an extension must not affect important dates in the proceedings like e.g. trial, pre-trial review unless there are some exceptional circumstances which the court may decide to take into account. The court would in those circumstances exercise its powers so that the case comes to trial on time. The court will do this in such a way that it will impose sanctions if particular steps are not done in time. The postponement of the trial itself is the last resort and the court will postpone for the shortest possible time. If the extension to directions carries a sanction such an extension is also not allowed. The court has the power to vary the directions and this includes shorten as well as extend the time.
Attending the case management conference
It is necessary to attend the case management conference. The representative can attend and must be fully prepared for the case and must be ready to understand the issues arising in the case. Failure to attend a case management conference may result in an award of wasted costs against you.