The 49th set of amendments to the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) have been published and the majority of the amendments come into force on 6 April 2009. The amendments include:
- a new Practice Direction (PD) on Pre-Action Conduct which will supplement CPR Part 3. Some of the new practice direction applies only to cases where no other subject-specific protocol applies, but other parts apply to all cases. Although the new PD is not intended to impose significant new requirements on parties, it does contain some changes which could result in a change in approach by the courts. For example, it includes a requirement that claimants should state whether they have complied with the PD or any relevant protocol in the claim form or particulars of claim and this may lead to more attention by the courts on the parties' pre-action behaviour when costs are being assessed. Also, the PD omits the words from the old practice direction that "no party can or should be forced into any form of ADR";
- new rules on costs capping (CPR 44.18 to 44.20) effectively consolidating existing case law by permitting applications for, and variation of, costs capping orders in order to limit the amount of future costs which a party may recover. The court may only make a costs capping order where it is in the interests of justice, there is a substantial risk that, without such an order, costs will be disproportionately incurred and that this risk cannot be controlled by case management directions and detailed assessment of costs; and
- an increase to the financial limit of fast track procedures from £15,000 to £25,000 (CPR 16.3 and CPR 26.6, and CPR 46.2 is also amended to increase the fast track trial costs scale to reflect this change).