knowledge | 8 December 2020 |
Review Group Report sets out the Path for Extensive Reform of Civil Justice in Ireland
The Group established to review the administration of civil justice in Ireland has published its report containing over ninety recommendations.
Review of Civil Justice Group Report
The Review Group, chaired by Mr Justice Peter Kelly, established to review the administration of civil justice in Ireland has published its report (“the Report”). The Report (available here) includes: a comparative perspective on civil justice reform looking at other jurisdictions and at recent civil justice reform initiatives in Ireland as well as an assessment of the civil jurisdiction of the courts, civil procedure in the courts, discovery, judicial review, multi-party litigation, litigation costs, the facilitation of court users, technology and e-litigation and concludes with a summary of the recommendations under each heading. The Report points out areas where legislation or change is needed but also highlights areas where change has already been made but still needs to be properly embedded. Some of its recommendations include:
- A variety of changes to personal injuries litigation;
- Extension of pre-action protocols to High Court civil litigation more generally with a power to order pre-action disclosure where a claim is covered by such a protocol;
- More extensive case management;
- New legislation setting out “case conduct principles” governing the conduct of litigation and case management obligations of the court;
- Amendment to court rules on pleadings requiring parties to plead their case with far greater precision;
- Limitations on adjournments;
- Automatic discontinuance of stagnant proceedings;
- Extension of the court rules committees’ remit to allow them to modify the rules of evidence in civil proceedings;
- Simplification of court forms and language;
- Abolition of the general requirement to seek the court’s permission to serve interrogatories. Interrogatories by way of straightforward questions should be permitted more widely;
- Reform of the lis pendens procedure to prevent abuse;
- Reform around summonses to produce documents to prevent the circumvention of the procedures governing particulars, discovery and interrogatories;
- Requirement to enter appearance in certain cases where this is not currently required;
- Automatic judgment in default of defence where a defence has not been delivered within the time allowed on a first application for judgment;
- An entirely new scheme for discovery;
- Increased efficiency around the use of expert evidence;
- Tightening up of judicial review procedures;
- Introduction of a Group Litigation Order procedure similar to that in England and Wales in relation to multi-party litigation;
- Introduction of non-binding guidelines in relation to litigation costs. This was a majority view and a minority of the Review Group were in favour of mandatory fee scales;
- Amendment of the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015 to ensure that party and party bills of costs are dealt with promptly;
- On third party funding, the Review Group recommends awaiting the outcome of a Law Reform Commission examination of the area. However, it does see merit, in the more immediate term to making third party funding available in the context of insolvency and bankruptcy in certain proceedings intended to increase the pool of assets available to creditors;
- Amendment of the court rules in relation to the court’s power strike out unmeritorious claims;
- Recommendations around an optimal future e-Litigation model for civil proceedings;
- Creation of special High Court lists to deal with areas such as intellectual property and technology.
If implemented, these proposals will see welcome adjustments to certain areas and the complete transformation of other areas of the administration of civil justice. It is significant that in carrying out its work, the Review Group attempted to reduce the need to resort to primary legislation where possible so that recommendations made could be implemented with greater speed. This means that now that the Review Group has shown the way, we may see significant change sooner rather than later.
This document has been prepared by McCann FitzGerald LLP for general guidance only and should not be regarded as a substitute for professional advice. Such advice should always be taken before acting on any of the matters discussed.