Completed on behalf of the Property Litigation Association (PLA).
The Property Litigation Association (PLA) responds to the consultation on the Shorter and Earlier Trial Procedures Initiative as set out below in our comments in red on the draft Practice Direction. PLA members specialise in all aspects of property litigation including commercial, residential and agricultural property law. We are (approximately 1200) lawyers who come from a variety of firms in terms of size and location.
By way of a general comment, we are broadly supportive of the concept of a Shorter Trial Scheme (STS) being available to litigants but have some concerns about the process as it is currently envisaged.
To encourage litigants to use the STS we would strongly recommend that a reduced set of court fees be introduced (particularly in light of the system of enhanced court fees recently introduced) for the scheme to reflect the lower burden on court time and resources that it represents.
We are also supportive of the Flexible Trial Scheme (FTS), although we would observe that it appears to reflect what is really just good case management which judges / masters should be following in any event. It should not be necessary for the parties to “agree” to adapt trial procedures to suit their particular case and confine their evidence to the issues in dispute.
They should have an obligation to seek to reach such agreement and, in default of such an agreement, the judge/master should pro-actively manage the case applying the same principles laid out in the FTS.
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Hogan Lovells International LLP