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Reforming civil procedure

Reforming civil procedure


Nigel Sanders, Anna Johnson, and Vanessa Opoku highlight the sea change in Jersey's dispute resolution process that brings it more in line with England and Wales' CPR

On 1 June 2017, a set of amendments to the Royal Court Rules, together with 11 new practice directions, came into force in Jersey. These welcomed changes provide more certainty to timescales and costs in the dispute resolution process.

Further, the amendments to the rules and PDs will encourage the early resolution of cases to avoid the need to resort to court proceedings.

These changes mark a sea change in civil procedure in Jersey, which to date has largely followed the practice provided for in the Supreme Court Practice as applied in England and Wales in 1999. While much of that practice will remain, the changes will bring the Jersey process more into line with the Civil Procedure Rules in England and Wales.

Overriding objection

The amended rules introduce an explicit overriding objective of the court to deal with cases ‘justly and at proportionate cost’, and a requirement that the parties must assist the court to further its overriding objective. This rule is expressed not to apply to criminal or quasi-criminal proceedings.

Pre-action communication

The encouragement of early resolution of cases is illustrated in a new pre-action communication PD. Its purpose is to encourage parties to exchange information and allow parties an opportunity to settle the claim prior to the commencement of proceedings. Non-compliance may result in an adverse costs order.

Pending list and adjournments

Where following service an action is tabled before the court, the parties can now agree to an adjournment of up to four weeks without leave of the court.

Summary judgment

Changes have been made to the test to be applied for summary judgment applications under part 7 of the rules. The amendments include the introduction of a ‘no real prospect’ of success test and provisions enabling a defendant to seek summary judgment against a plaintiff.

Requests for information

A new PD provides guidance on rule 6/15 and the power permitting the court to require any party to either clarify any matter which is in dispute in the proceedings or to give additional information in relation to any such matter, whether or not the matter is contained or referred to in a pleading. Such a request must be concise and only relate to matters that are reasonably necessary and proportionate.

Directions hearing

A new process has been introduced in relation to the scheduling of the directions hearing, whereby the court may now notify the parties of the date when such a hearing is to take place after the matter has been placed on the pending list. The practice direction also provides guidance as to what the parties should consider in an application for directions.

It imposes a duty on the parties to (i) consider what directions are required, (ii) endeavour to agree appropriate directions for case management, and (iii) submit agreed directions to the court for approval. If directions are not agreed the parties must now set out the directions they require and give a summary of the reasons why such direction is needed with supporting material.


Where the value of the claim, including any counterclaims, is less than £500,000, a costs budget must be filed by all parties within seven days prior to the hearing of the first summons for directions.


A new PD provides guidance on the parties’ approach to producing documents relevant to the dispute. In particular, that obligation may now be dispensed with or limited by the court. The result is that discovery may now be limited to what is reasonable and proportionate.

A further PD has been introduced which deals with documents held in electronic form. This new direction codifies the general principles and process for making discovery of electronic documents in a proportionate and cost-effective manner.

It emphasises the need for the parties to discuss cooperatively the approach to electronic discovery and agree the process to be followed using appropriate technology. The PD also imposes obligations on parties to ensure electronic documents are preserved from the time when litigation is contemplated.

Expert evidence

Another PD provides guidance on the approach to applications to adduce expert evidence under rule 6/20. In particular, it limits the number of experts that may be called and requires, where possible, that the parties endeavour to instruct the same expert where the claim involves more than one plaintiff or defendant. Thus the parties are encouraged to explore instructing a single joint expert in light of the overriding objective to deal with cases fairly and expeditiously.

Offers to settle

New rules have been introduced to encourage parties to put forward a proposal to settle a matter. If such an offer is declined, it may be taken into account when the court addresses the question of costs.

Summary assessment of costs A new process has also been introduced whereby the costs of interlocutory hearings (other than in respect of a summons for directions) of less than a day can be summarily assessed.

Nigel Sanders is a partner and head of Ogier Jersey’s dispute resolution team. Anna Johnson is a senior associate and Vanessa Opoku is a trainee solicitor