In an interesting judgment1 (the full transcript of which is currently unavailable), Asplin J adjourned a trial, listed to start in January 2017, pending the judgment in another case which involved the same defendant, the same Judge and dealt with some of the same issues.2
Both matters are listed in the Financial List (the List) which was set up in October 2015 as a dedicated specialist list to deal with 'cases which would benefit from being heard by judges with particular expertise in the financial markets or which raise issues of general importance to the financial markets'. These cases should be 'dealt with by judges with suitable expertise and experience'.3 Although it was not envisaged to be a List of 'high volume', a steady stream of cases has either been started in it or transferred to it since its inception.
In addition to having relevant financial expertise, the specific judges are allocated to a case at the first case management conference and deal with all applications relating to the case, rather than a Master4. This ensures that the judge will manage any case management issues and guarantees continuity. Case management is an important cornerstone governing civil procedure in England & Wales. The purpose of case management is to ensure that the court is in control of litigation using specific rules contained in the Civil Procedure Rules and ensuring that the court sanctioned timetable is followed which will ultimately save time and costs for both sides.
The question before Asplin J was whether the trial in the instant case (Hocking) should be adjourned until the judgment in Property Alliance Group (PAG) had been handed down. In Hocking, the claimant is bringing an action against RBS relating to matters regarding the misselling of swaps, LIBOR and the RBS's global restructuring group. Similar issues were considered in the trial between PAG v RBS which concluded in October 2016 and was also heard by Asplin J. In light of this recent judgment in Hocking, judgment in PAG is not anticipated before January 2017.
Asplin J noted that the judgment in PAG could affect the trial of the Hocking case, including the opening statements, the court bundles, the scope of cross examination and the time estimate of the trial itself. She was aware that once judgment in PAG came out, the parties in Hocking would need time to consider the effects of it on the instant case. It could lead to a narrowing of the issues between the parties and therefore lead to both a costs and time saving for all concerned. Although an adjournment would cause some immediate delay it would allow the parties to consider the issues between them in a cost-efficient way. It had been suggested that only the LIBOR related issues should be adjourned but Asplin J considered this was unrealistic and could cause further delay.
The decision is an example of effective case management in order to save the time and costs of the parties involved and shows the benefit of having the Financial List, with dedicated judges who hear cases featuring similar issues.