A Part 36 offer provides parties with one of the most important tactical steps in litigation in the UK courts, attaching important cost implications should a settlement not be achieved.
Following criticism in the past few years and some inconsistent judgments, Part 36 has been amended with changes to come into effect on 6 April 2015. These changes address the following:
- Whether time-limited offers are valid Part 36 offers – new CPR 36.9(4)(b) allows a Part 36 offer to be automatically withdrawn after expiry of the relevant period in accordance with its terms
- Improved offers - new CPR 36.9(5) provides that an amended offer to make terms more advantageous to the offeree is treated as a new offer rather than a withdrawal of the original offer
- Part 36 offers in the context of appeal proceedings – new CPR 36.4 makes specific provision for appeal proceedings
- Difficulties in dealing with split trials or trials of preliminary issues – new CPR 36.16 addresses this and permits the trial judge to be told of the existence of any offer but not the terms
- Clarifying Part 36 in relation to counterclaiming defendants – new CPR 36.2(3) confirms that a Part 36 offer may be made in respect of a counterclaim or other additional claim
This is a comprehensive overhaul of Part 36 and in addition to the key changes outlined above the amendments go some way to codifying recent case law in this area to provide a "self-contained procedural code about offers to settle made pursuant to the procedure set out in [Part 36]" as stated in new CPR 36.1.
See the amendments in full here.