Court summit proposes radical changes

The Admiralty and Commercial Court Guide will be overhauled following the symposium of judges, solicitors and barristers which took place on Monday (30 October).

Key suggestions arising from the meeting include listing of cases to ensure adequate reading time, restrictions on the disclosure of electronic material, limitation on the length and cost of witness statements, and the imposition of realistic but strict timetables.

Attendees also proposed relaxing the test for striking out claims, and the more ready availability of a submission of no case to answer.

Over 100 delegates attended the meeting, and major contributions were made by the Royal Bank of Scotland’s litigation head Stephen Pearson and Sean McGovern, general counsel of Lloyd’s of London.

Written submissions and oral contributions from other court users, including the firms involved in last year’s Equitable Life and BCCI cases, were also heard.

The symposium was chaired by Mr Justice David Steel, who said that the Commercial Court cannot afford to stand still and must continue to improve.