Introduction
Update


Introduction

On 3 January 2023, the pilot scheme for case settlement conferences (CSCs) in civil cases in the District Court was extended for a further two years. The pilot scheme was introduced as part of (among other things) the Guidance Note for Case Settlement Conferences that took effect on 2 January 2021 for civil cases in the District Court (excluding, for example, personal injury and employee compensation cases).

CSCs are conducted on a without prejudice basis and presided over by judicial officers (known as "masters"). While CSCs are not mediations (before a mutually agreed mediator), they provide the Court with an opportunity to facilitate settlement discussions between the parties and/or narrow the issues in dispute. Under the pilot scheme commenced in January 2021, it was the Court that decided whether a CSC should be fixed.

Update

The extended pilot scheme introduced two main changes effective as from 3 January 2023.

First, as an alternative to the Court directing the parties to attend a CSC, the parties may take the initiative at any stage of the proceedings to apply for directions for a CSC to be fixed.

Second, mediator-assisted case settlement conferences (MCSCs) have been introduced. MCSCs are intended to enhance the effectiveness of the mediation process. Where the parties have undergone a mediation session but there remain unresolved issues, the Court can direct them to consider an MCSC and, with their consent, fix an MCSC. The parties may also agree at any stage of the proceedings to seek directions for an MCSC to be fixed. An MCSC is conducted on a without prejudice basis and presided over by a judge or master and is supposed to serve as a continuation of the mediation process at which the parties and their appointed mediator attend.

The guidance note is publicly available on the judiciary's website.

For further information on this topic please contact Antony Sassi or Jacky Darsono at RPC by telephone (+852 2216 7000) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]). The RPC website can be accessed at www.rpc.co.uk.