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Report No. 188


The (UK) Civil Procedure Rules supplemented by the 'Commercial Court Guide' deal with the procedure in the Commercial Courts.

Way back, England had the Commercial Court practice guided by Theobald Matthew's Practice of the Commercial Court. (See Scrutton's 'The Work of the Commercial Courts' (1923) 1 Cambridge Law Journal 6). There have been number of Practice Directions. The official 'Commercial Court Guide' (5th Ed) was published in 1999 and now we have the 'Admiralty and Commercial Court Guide' (6th Ed) (Feb. 2002). As stated in the 'Introduction', this edition of the Guide was published to coincide with the introduction of Parts 58, 61 and 62 of the Civil Procedure Rules dealing with commerce and Admiralty Proceedings and proceedings relating to Arbitrations respectively.

Most of the provisions which had hitherto been contained in the practice directions made under Part 49 and the 5th edition of the Commercial Court Guide are now to be found in these new rules and their associate practice directions, although the Guide still contains a number of additional provisions which are necessary to ensure the efficient conduct of business in the Admiralty and Commercial Courts. The Guide is published with the approval of the Lord Chief Justice.

The Guide is not intended to be a blueprint to which all litigation must unthinkingly conform. As in the past, it seeks to provide a modern and flexible framework within which litigation can be conducted efficiently and in the interests of justice. The Guide has still to be read in conjunction with the Civil Procedure Rules and Practice Directions.

The (UK) Civil Procedure Rules, 1999 came into force in April 1999 with the aim of streamlining the civil justice process and resolving as many cases as possible without resorting to court proceedings, by introducing new 'protocols' for the pre-issue stages of some forms of litigation. The Civil Procedure Rules, 1998 replace the Rules of the Supreme Court, 1965 and the County Court Rules, 1981.

Proceedings in the Commercial Court are governed by the Civil Procedure Rules, 1998 (CPR) and Practice Directions (PD); CPR, Part 58 and the associated PDs govern the procedure.

Civil Procedure Rules (UK) Part 58, Commercial Courts

Part 58 of the Civil Procedure Rules deal with 'Commercial Courts' and modifies the Civil Procedure Rules, 1998 in certain respects, insofar as Commercial Claims are concerned.

Rule 58.1, refers to the 'scope of this Part and its interpretation. Clause (2) of Rule 58(1) defines ' Commercial Claim' as meaning any claim arising out of the transactions of trade and commerce and includes any claim relating to -

(a) a business document or contract;

(b) the export or import of goods;

(c) the carriage of goods by land, sea, air or pipeline;

(d) the exploitation of oil and gas reserves or other natural resources;

(e) insurance and re-insurance;

(f) banking and financial services;

(g) the operation of markets and exchanges;

(h) the purchase and sale of commodities;

(i) the construction of ships;

(j) business agency; and

(k) arbitration.

Rule 58.2 refers to the 'specialist list' which is a specialist list for claims proceeding in the Commercial Court. Clause (2) thereof says that one of the judges of the Commercial Court shall be in charge of the commercial list.

Rule 58.3 states that the Rules and the practice directions apply to claims in the commercial list unless this Part 58 or a practice direction provides otherwise.

Rule 58.4 read with Rule 30.5(3) provides that an application for the transfer of proceedings to or from a specialist list must be made to a judge dealing with claims in the commercial list and that a Commercial Court Judge may order a claim to be transferred to any other specialist list.

Rule 58.5 refers to the (pre-litigation stage) claim form and for service of particulars of claim within 28 days of service of claim form. In fact, Rule 58.5(1)(a) requires the defendant to inform - on receipt of the claim form - if he intends to defend the claim.

Rule 58.6 refers to 'acknowledgement of service' within particular number of days of service of claim form.

Special procedure is prescribed for service outside (local) jurisdiction or abroad.

Rule 58.7 refers to 'Disputing the Courts' Jurisdiction. It says that an application under Rule 11(1) must be filed by the plaintiff within 28 days after filing an acknowledgement of service and if the defendant files an acknowledgement of service indicating an intention to dispute the courts' jurisdiction, the claimant need not serve particulars of claim before the hearing of the application.

Rule 58.8 refers to 'Default Judgment' if the defendant fails to file an acknowledgement of service and the claimant need not serve particulars of claim before he may obtain or apply for default judgment in accordance with Part 12 and Rule 12.6(1) applies with the modification that para (a) shall be read as if it referred to the 'claim form' instead of the 'particulars of claim'.

Rule 58.9 deals with 'Admissions'. It says that Rule 14.5 does not apply and that if the defendant admits part of a claim for a specified amount of money, the claimant may apply under Rule 14.3 for judgment on the admission. Rule 14.14(1) applies with the modification that para (a) shall be read as if it referred to the 'claim form' instead of the 'particulars of claim'.

Rule 58.10 refers to 'Defence and Reply' and refers to Rule 15 which requires defence to be filed within 14 days of service of particulars of claim. Rule 58.10 requires that the claimant must file any reply to the defence and serve all other parties within 21 days after service of the defence.

Rule 58.11 permits the Court to proceed with the claim in the commercial list without the filing or service of statements of case.

Rule 58.12 states that Part 8 (alternative procedure for claims) applies to claims in the commercial list, with the modification that a defendant to a Part 8 claim who wishes to rely on written evidence must file and serve it within 28 days after filing an acknowledgement of service.

'Case-management' in the Commercial Court is dealt with in Rule 58.13. Sub-clause (1) of Rule 58.13 states that all proceedings in the commercial list are treated as being allocated to the multi-track and Part 26 (Case-management) does not apply. (Multi-track is covered by Part 29).

Sub-clause (2) of Rule 58.13 states that in Part 29 only rule 29.3(2) (legal representative to attend case-management conferences and pre-trial reviews) and rule 29.5 (variation of case-management time-table) with the exception of rule 29.5(1)(c), apply.

Sub-clause (3) of Rule 58.13 states that, as soon as practicable, the Court will hold a case-management conference which must be fixed in accordance with the practice direction.

Sub-clause (4) of section 58.13 states that, at the case-management conference or at any hearing at which parties are represented, the Court may give such directions for the management of the case as it considers appropriate.

Rule 58.14 refers to 'disclosure-ships papers'. Rule 58.15 refers to

'judgments and orders'.

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