The Civil Procedure Rules Committee (CPRC) has launched a five week consultation seeking views on a new model order for directions to be used in all credit hire cases.
The consultation follows suggestions that current provisions concerning credit hire and existing standard directions might be causing otherwise avoidable contested directions hearings.
The CPRC proposes that the model directions will be used in all credit hire cases regardless of track, in order to narrow issues between parties and clarify the disclosure and evidence required, especially in cases where impecuniosity is alleged by the claimant.
The majority of new proposed directions appear to be reasonable. The CPRC preference is that the credit hire provisions on disclosure and witness evidence be dealt with as distinct steps from the rest of the directions. Claimants will be required to provide a statement concerning need for hire and impecuniosity, as well as disclosing financial records showing the same.
However, further specific disclosure of hire agreements and insurance for the hire vehicles, as well as V5, MOT and insurance for the claimant's vehicle would be beneficial in order to properly evidence the claimant's loss. In addition it is to be hoped the directions also apply to taxi credit hire claims and include disclosure of taxi licences etc.
The draft proposals in respect of basic hire evidence are in need of revision. The current provisions are as follows:
If the parties fail to agree rates subject to liability and/or other issues pursuant to paragraph (d) above, each party may instruct a single witness to provide evidence of basic hire rates available within the claimant’s geographical location, from a mainstream (or, if none is available, a local reputable) supplier. The defendant’s evidence to be served by 4pm on [14 days after paragraph (d) above] and the claimant’s evidence in reply if so advised to be served by 4pm on [28 days after paragraph (d) above]
Sequential exchange of rates evidence would unfairly prejudice defendants as it allows claimants an opportunity to comment on defendants' evidence, without defendants having a chance of reply. It would be fairer if the parties exchanged the rates evidence simultaneously.
Following Jonathon Grice v Atos Origin IT Services geographical location of the hire company is now less relevant when assessing the rate, given the propensity for free national delivery and collection services. Accordingly reference to location of the provider should be removed.
The consultation opened on 28 June 2017 and will close at 5pm on 1 August 2017.