Amendments to CPR come into effect on 6th April 2008, with the exception of CPR pt 75 (Traffic Enforcement), which comes into effect on 31st March. The most relevant changes are:

Part 3 – Court’s Case Management Powers – further to the new hearing fee introduced from 1st October 2007, the sanction of striking out for non-payment of certain fees is amended to provide that the rule applies where the fee payable for the hearing is not paid. In addition the sanction of striking out is applied where a Defendant files a counterclaim without paying a fee or making an application for full/part remission of the fee.

Pre-action Protocols

The Civil Justice Council has published the summary of responses to the consultation paper and has decided not to take forward the proposal for a consolidated pre-action protocol, as the majority of responses were opposed to change. Instead there will be a focus on producing a General Pre- Action Protocol as a default, where other protocols are not applicable and a review of existing protocols with a view to modernisation if appropriate.

Increase in Damages for Bereavement from 1.1.08

In line with changes to the Retail Prices Index, Bereavement Damages will increase from £10,000 to £11,800 to take account of inflation. The increase will apply to causes of action accruing after 1st January 2008. It is intended that going forward, the Government will review this award on a regular basis: the last amendment being in April 2002 when the award was increased from £7,500 to £10,000.

Mental Capacity Act 2005 and amendment to CPR 21

There is a new statutory test for capacity. CPR 21 has been amended accordingly with the term “patient” being replaced by “protected party”. The test is no longer whether a party is a “patient” – the rule now is whether the party lacks capacity within the meaning of the Mental Capacity Act, which came into force on 1st October 2007. It is also important to note that a person may lack capacity for some purposes and not others – the test is issue based.

A more detailed analysis of these changes will be covered in the next edition.