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The shorter and flexible trial schemes one year on

Sarah Charig considers what effect the shorter and flexible trial schemes have had on practice

12 December 2016

As is well known, the growing cost of litigation and the delays to court availability have become a great cause of frustration, turning parties to alternative forums. It has, however, been just over a year since two pilot schemes were introduced into the Rolls Building courts under practice direction 51N: the shorter trial scheme (STS) and the flexible trial scheme (FTS).

Both of these schemes seemed to offer exciting alternatives for businesses hoping to resolve disputes both quickly and affordably. By shortening the route to trial, businesses should be able to avoid the significant cost barriers involved in full-blown litigation. But how have these schemes fared in the past year, and do they have a future?

Despite the potential advantages of these alternative routes, the uptake of the STS and FTS has so far been modest. To date, ten cases have been issued or transferred to...

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