In brief

Payments into court - in rather a surprise move, payments into court under CPR 36 will no longer be required from 6 April 2007. For details of the new CPR 36 and 37 see under Part 36 offers below.

Pre-action admissions – from 6 April 2007 admissions made before proceedings start will be given equal weight to those made during proceedings. A pre-action admission is defined in the new CPR 14 as one made after the defendant has received a letter of claim in accordance with the relevant pre-action protocol or one made before a letter of claim has been received, but which is stated to be made under CPR 14. For details of the amendment see Civil Procedure (Amendment No 3) Rules 2006.

Construction Pre-Action Protocol – the PAP for Construction and Engineering Disputes has been revised following consultation to address issues relating to the time and cost of complying with the protocol. The new protocol comes into force on 6 April 2007. For details of the amendment (and other changes to the CPR) see the DCA website.

First solicitor to sit in Court of Appeal – Sir Lawrence Collins is the first solicitor to be made a Court of Appeal judge. Previously a partner at Herbert Smith, he became the first solicitor to be appointed directly to the High Court bench in 2000. His time at Herbert Smith was the basis for an unsuccessful allegation of bias in BCCI v Ali. Summary assessment guideline rates – the guideline hourly rates for the summary assessment of costs have been increased in line with the retail prices index with effect from 1 January 2007. For details, see Appendix 2 to the Supreme Court Costs Office Guide.

Legal disciplinary partnerships – Lord Falconer has said that LDPs (with no non-lawyer managers or owners) will not be alternative business structures (ABSs) as envisaged by the Legal Services Bill and so will be available as soon as the Act is enacted this summer. Those planning to set up ABSs will have to wait for the Legal Services Board (LSB) and the ABS licensing system to be set up.

Higher rights of audience – the newly-created Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has asked whether the current restriction requiring solicitors to achieve a separate qualification in order to appear in the higher courts is justifiable in the interests of the public or the proper administration of justice. The consultation period ends on 12 April 2007. Details are available on the Law Society website.

Supreme Court Rules - the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 provides for the abolition of the appellate jurisdiction of the House of Lords and the establishment of a new Supreme Court of the United Kingdom which is due to begin work in October 2009. In anticipation the Senior Law Lord, Lord Bingham, is consulting on draft rules for the court. The consultation period ends on 10 April 2007.