Civil Justice Council launches review of Pre-action Protocols

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The Civil Justice Council (CJC) is currently conducting a review of Pre-action Protocols (PAPs).

The review will look at all aspects of PAPs including their purpose, whether they are working effectively in practice and what reforms, if any, are required.

The CJC is particularly interested in looking at how PAPs are working for litigants with limited means; the costs associated with PAP compliance; the potential of PAPs in online dispute resolution, and the potential for PAPs to be streamlined. However, our focus is not closed, and we are conducting a preliminary survey to obtain feedback and suggestions about what ought to be the focus of the review, and the priorities for reform.

Accordingly, we want to hear from anyone with experience of, or an interest in, PAPs including the judiciary, practitioners, litigants, academics, and representative organisations working in the civil justice system.

The terms of reference of the review are set out below but these are subject to revision, and may change depending on the responses we receive to the survey. Therefore, we encourage as many interested persons as possible to have their say.

Please complete the survey online (external link, opens in a new tab). A copy of the survey questions is available at the bottom of this page, if you wish to consider the questions before submitting your answers online.

And a list of PAPs currently in force can be found on the Ministry of Justice website (external link, opens in a new tab).

The survey will be open until Friday 18 December 2020.

CJC Pre-action Protocol Terms of Reference

1. What amendments to the PAPs, or associated guidance to LIPs, would be desirable to draw litigants’ attention to the effects of Jet2?

2. Are there any PAPs that are not fulfilling the purposes of PAPs as originally envisioned by Lord Woolf and/or the purposes currently set out in ‘CPR PD-PAC’.  What function should PAPs perform in the 2020s?

3. Are there major inconsistencies between PAPs and are these justified by the differences in the litigation to which they relate?

4. Are the “soft sanctions” for non-compliance with voluntary pre-action protocols – case management directions and costs orders – being regularly and consistently applied?

5. Should all PAPs be mandatory? Should any PAPs be mandatory? What should the sanctions for non-compliance be?

6. Are any PAPS overly technical or burdensome to litigants and can they be streamlined?

7. Are any PAPs lacking key steps that ought to be required of parties, or prohibit initiatives that should be allowed?

8. Are PAPs a mechanism for de facto compulsory ADR prior to commencement of litigation? Should they be?

9. What are the ratios of cases settled at the PAP stage compared to post issue mediation?

10. Should there be any changes to PAPs as a result of the HMCTS reform programme and the digitisation of the civil justice system generally? To what extent are PAPs already online?  Should there be further digitalisation of PAP steps and guidance?

Dr Andrew Higgins
On behalf of the Civil Justice Council
October 2020