If you are involved in court action in a regional court from April 2015, you – or your opponent – must provide proof of why it should be relocated to a court in London, under new procedure rules from the Civil Procedure Rule Committee.
Practice Direction 29 covers the multi-track system and Part 30 Transfer of ongoing cases – in short, whether or not a case currently taking place in a regional court should be transferred to one in London instead.
New amendments are being introduced to place a burden of proof on litigants to demonstrate why such a transfer should take place, and are due to come into effect on April 6th 2015.
The 78th Update to the Civil Procedure Rules states: “Amendments are made to the rules in respect of transfer of cases, to require litigants engaged in disputes in regional courts to state the reasons why a particular case should be transferred to London for determination when the appropriate specialist courts are available regionally.”
It is aimed generally at ensuring regional courts – including those in cities in the north of the country – are able to hear cases without a substantial proportion of litigants requesting they should be transferred to London without good reason.
Of course, if there is a legitimate and demonstrable reason why a London court should be preferable, then the amendments do not prevent a transfer from taking place.
The move comes in response to widespread anecdotal beliefs that London has better availability of judges, and that cases are therefore heard more promptly in the capital, while the Law Gazette reported a view that rates are better for hearings held in London.
But the publication also noted a written response from senior costs judge Andrew Gordon-Saker, who claimed: “The only relevant geographical factor is the location where the work was done. The guideline hourly rates are based only on the location of the solicitor, not the location of the hearing.”