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A new edition of the Chancery Guide was
published and came into force on 29 July, just before the start of
the summer court recess. The first new edition since 2016, the
Guide has been wholly re-written by a working group which was led
by the editors, Fancourt J and Master Kaye, and included Chris Bushell and Maura McIntosh of Herbert Smith Freehills.
The new Guide aims to align the content of the Guide with those
for the other courts in the Business and Property Courts, including
the new edition of the Commercial Court Guide
published in February, though there are many areas of practice
that remain different and so different guidance is appropriate. It
also takes account of various changes since the previous edition,
including technological changes and new practices that have
evolved, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.
So, for example, the Guide specifies that procedural hearings
with a time estimate of half a day or less will take place remotely
unless the court orders otherwise. Matters listed to be considered
at the pre-trial review include the use of technology and whether
any parts of the trial should be heard remotely or by a hybrid
hearing, and any arrangements for witnesses to give evidence
remotely. There is detailed guidance on the preparation and conduct
of remote and hybrid hearings in an appendix to the Guide.
Parties and their legal representatives are encouraged to
minimise the use of paper. Bundles for hearings and trials are to
be filed only electronically, unless a hard copy bundle is
specifically requested by the court. An appendix sets out detailed
guidance on the preparation and delivery of bundles, both
electronic and hard copy.
The new Guide reflects procedural reforms implemented in recent
years, such as PD 57AC on trial witness statements which was
introduced in April 2021 and the disclosure pilot at PD 51U (soon to be incorporated on a permanent basis as PD
There are new detailed provisions relating to
“ordinary” applications (of a half day or less) and
longer or “heavy” applications, designed in part to align
the practice of the Chancery Division with other courts in the
Business and Property Courts. There are also new default page
limits for skeleton arguments and statements of case.
While the new Guide continues to use the term “ADR”
(or alternative dispute resolution), rather than “NDR”
(or negotiated dispute resolution) as adopted by the Commercial
Court Guide, it contains clear encouragement for the parties to
consider ADR at all stages of a claim.
The court’s note announcing the new Guide makes it clear
that court users should not assume previous guidance remains the
same in all areas, and should read the relevant parts of the Guide
when using the courts.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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