When the date for the first CMC in this group litigation case was ordered, the clerks to leading counsel for the claimants advised that they could not attend on that date. Fraser J told the parties that a formal application to move the date would be required but this was not done and the judge refused to change the date for the CMC in this large and complicated case. At the CMC, a substantive hearing was ordered for November 2018. This time, leading counsel for the defendant was unable to make that date because of a prior commitment in the Chancery Division around the same time. Both parties requested the November date be moved into 2019.
That application has now been refused by Fraser J. He said that "Fixing hearings in this group litigation around the diaries of busy counsel, rather than their fixing their diaries around this case, is in my judgment fundamentally the wrong approach" and that "Fitting hearings around their availability has all the disadvantages of doing an intricate jigsaw puzzle, with none of the fun associated with that activity".
Although it might be regrettable that one party might be deprived of their counsel of choice because of listing, that was not an unusual situation. Incremental delay to hearings would lead to the litigation taking longer and costs mounting.