The recent Court of Appeal decision in Mitchell v News Group International marks the first significant appellate decision that has enforced the Jackson Reforms and has carved the way for the future conduct of litigation
Quite simply, if you fail to comply with the rules, practice directions or court orders the courts are required to refuse relief from sanction under Civil Procedure Rule 3.9. Parties should be aware that relief from sanctions will only be granted sparingly, non–compliance will no longer be tolerated.
This decision has redressed the balance between the interests of the parties involved in the matter before the court against the wider interest of the administration of justice and other court users. Master McCloud, who heard the original claim highlighted that all litigants should have a “fair crack of the whip” and have a right not to be delayed when the courts are dealing with matters that have only arisen due to non-compliance, especially in a time where the court resources are limited.
The decision promotes compliance with the rules, failing which; the bite will be painful for both litigants and their advisors.
Litigators can take the following points from this decision:
- Relief will be granted more sparingly than usual. It should only be granted where there has otherwise been full compliance or there is a very good reason for the breach;
- It is of paramount importance that litigation is conducted efficiently and at proportionate cost, with compliance with the rules and orders;
From now own, litigators must implement procedural systems and controls to avoid any non-compliance, otherwise they will suffer the force of the Jackson Reforms bite.