Civil litigation is governed by these rules. They represent guidelines, rules and regulations in relation to a court procedure when resolving a civil matter. They have to be complied with before a trial is legally executed. At the same time the courts must remember to comply with Convention rights (European Convention on Human Rights). E.g. Article 6 of the Convention relating to a fair trial. The courts must of course comply with all other Convention rules unless a declaration of incompatibility is made. The existence and coming into force of CPR rules 1998 overrode old Rules of the Supreme Court (in the High Court) and County Court Rules (in the county Court).
It is a declaration which states that legislation is incompatible with a Convention Right. In such a case legislation should be amended so that it is found in compliance.
Civil procedure rules are divided into parts. There are 74 parts all together. Each part has several rules. There are also Practice directions which relate to each part. Practice directions are divided into paragraphs and their purpose is to assist in clarification and better understanding to the main rules. The most important rule which also defines all the purpose of those rules is CPR Part 1 Rule 1. According to Rule 1, it is an overriding objective of the court to deal with the cases justly. Dealing with cases justly means, preserving equality of the parties to the dispute, if possible saving unnecessary expenses, preserving proportionate dealings with cases bearing in mind the complexity and nature of the cases, ensuring that the case is dealt with fairly and expeditiously. The last but not least making sure that the court allots appropriate amount of resources to each case. Overriding objective has to be considered at all stage of the proceedings as well as when interpreting any other rules contained in Civil Procedure Rules. The rules also impose an obligation on the parties and the state to help the court to further and preserve overriding objective.
Pre-action protocols are contained in the Civil Procedure book (the White book) together with the rules. Pre-action protocols represent guidelines on procedure to other more specific areas of law before the court is involved. These are: Personal Injury, Clinical Negligence, Construction Engineering disputes, Defamation, Professional Negligence, Judicial Review, Disease & Illness, Housing Disrepair, Possession claims based on rent arrears. This aim of pre-action protocols is to encourage early settlement of dispute without the need for the court to get involved. The suggestion is that the parties should encourage early exchange of information so that the parties clearly understand the implications of the dispute. The objective is that in case that the proceedings in the court are unavoidable, they are done expeditiously.
Other rules represent guidelines referring to courts case management powers (CPR Part 3), service of court documents ( CPR Part 6), rules on how to start proceedings and explanation of what a claim form is and what it must contain (CPR part 7).
Proceedings are started when a claim form is issued on the Defendant by the court on the request of the Claimant. The claim form must contain statement of the claim. It must also state the remedy which is sought plus whether the claim is for money. Such a claim form, usually N1, must be filled in by the Claimant, and sufficient copies for the Defendant and the Court must be attached. There is a fee which must be paid when the claim form is issued. This claim form must be served on the Defendant within 4 months of the issue. An extension applies if the service is to a foreign jurisdiction (6 months). A claim form is not complete without particulars of the claim. These can be included within the claim form or they may be contained in a separate document and served together with a claim form. It is also allowed that they are served within 14 days of the service of the claim form. Rules on service still apply (CPR Rule 6). Particulars of claim must be verified and contain statement of truth (CPR Part 22). The defendant must then respond to the claim form. The defendant can file an acknowledgement of service (CPR Part 10), file or serve an admission (CPR Part 14) or file a defence (CPR Parts 15, 16). The defendant must do one of them unless he wants to obtain Judgment in Default (Part 12) due to failure to response. The court will then inform the Defendant about the acknowledgement of service being filed. The defence must be filed 14 days after service of the particular of the claims form. If the defendant files acknowledgement of service the defence should follow 28 days after service of particulars of the claim form. The Defendant must state in his defence which allegations it admits or he is unable to admit and which allegations it denies. The defence must also be verified by a statement of truth. There is an option for a Defendant to issue a counterclaim in accordance with CPR Part 20. As soon as the defence is filed, the court starts active management of the case (CPR Parts 26, 27, 28, 29).
Other parts regulate more specific procedures e.g. disclosure and Inspection of Documents (CPR Part 31), rules on evidence (CPR Part 32), rules on experts evidence (CPR part 35) together with Expertsí Protocol, Offers to settle (CPR Part 36), rules about Costs ( CPR Part 44)
Civil procedure rules operate with regards to civil matters. There is another set of rules relating to criminal matters these are called Criminal Procedure Rules.
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