The new editions of the Commercial Court Guide (11th edition) and Circuit Commercial Court Guide have been published (February 2022).
The new edition of the Commercial Court Guide reflects a variety of changes to practice – some brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic (default electronic bundles and more use of technology and remote hearings), some reflecting innovations such as the Disclosure Pilot and Practice Direction 57AC on trial Witness Statements.
There are also changes to the process for listing trials, the range of options which the court will regularly consider for foreign law evidence and to default maximum hearing times for different types of applications.
Other points include: (i) encouragement of the use of junior advocates where appropriate (ii) a process for summary determination of jurisdiction challenges in arbitration and (iii) an encouragement to parties to keep the question of what evidence (both documentary and witness) is actually needed to resolve the issues under active review from an early stage.
The scheme of the new Circuit Commercial Court Guide is expressly to follow the new Commercial Court Guide, subject to clearly identified exceptions. It is shorter by design than the previous edition and is concerned with practical matters not covered elsewhere. It is expressed in terms that enable all users to understand what is expected.
It encourages, wherever possible, practices that reduce cost and delay, establishes a new default paperless approach to both trials and applications, emphasises the expectation that all hearings of half a day or less will take place remotely and provides guidance of the use of new Circuit Commercial forms.
The changes to the Guides have been consulted on by the Judges of the Courts with the Courts’ regular users.
Launching the new Guides, Mrs Justice Cockerill, the Judge in charge of the Commercial Court, said: “The new Guides update practices, with a view to reflecting developments in the way users now work and to conduct cases more efficiently. They also bring the approach of the Circuit Commercial Courts around the country more closely in line with the Commercial Court.”
The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon, has welcomed publication in a foreword to the Commercial Court Guide as “another significant step in the Court’s responsive approach to ensuring that it maintains its core mission: providing speedy, efficient, and high-quality dispute resolution for commercial users, so as to give them certainty when making transactions, and to let them get on with the business of doing business.”
Both Guides are available to read below.