Case Management Powers - The Royal Brompton Hospital Case: Judge's Case Management Criticised By Court Of Appeal

Profession:Herbert Smith

Following the introduction of the Civil Procedure Rules (the "CPR") in April 1999, courts were encouraged and empowered to manage cases actively.

The Overriding Objective of the CPR is to enable the court to deal with cases justly and this includes so far as practicable -

ensuring that the parties are on an equal footing;

saving expense;

dealing with the case in ways that are proportionate -

to the amount of money involved;

to the importance of the case;

to the complexity of the issues; and

to the financial position of each party;

ensuring that it is dealt with expeditiously and fairly; and

allotting to it an appropriate share of the court's resources while taking into account the need to allot resources to other cases

Part 3.3 of the CPR gives the court power to make orders of its own initiative, while part 3.4 sets out the following grounds on which a court may strike out a statement of case:

if it appears to the court that it discloses no reasonable grounds for bringing or defending the claim, or

that is an abuse of the court's process or is otherwise likely to obstruct the just disposal of the proceedings, or

that there has been a failure to comply with a rule, a practice direction, or order.

The court may carry out part of its duty of active case management by summarily disposing of issues which do not need full investigation and trial in accordance with part 24. This rule allows the court to enter summary judgment against a claimant where, on all the facts, the claim has no reasonable prospect of success.

The Royal Brompton Hospital Case

His Honour Judge Seymour of the Technology and Construction Court exercised his case management powers in the case of The Royal Brompton Hospital National Health Service Trust v. Hammond and Others ALL [2001] 130. The judge held that the claimant's evidence did not prove its case on certain allegations made and he ordered that those allegations should be struck out and other claims excluded. He was extremely critical of the claimant's failure to (in his view) prepare its case adequately in time for the first hearing before him some 7 years after commencement of proceedings. He remarked that, even after considering the 146 page re-amended statement of case the claimant's allegations were still very vague and he was critical of the rather mobile quality of the claimant's interpretation of the re-amended statement of case in a case overburdened by pleadings. The Court of Appeal overturned his...

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