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A draft Commercial Hub Practice Direction has been published to replace the Practice Direction No. 1 of 2019. The revised Practice Direction shall come into operation on 1 November 2021. This Practice Direction is applicable to all commercial actions in which proceedings have been, or are, issued before, on or after this date.
The 2019 Practice Declaration was implemented by the Commercial Judge on his introduction of the Commercial Hub. The Commercial Hub, under the Direction of the Commercial Judge, is committed to resolving disputes expeditiously, efficiently and cost effectively. The Revised Practice Direction builds on the efficiency of the Commercial Hub.
The Case Management System has not changed and is as follows:-
The Practice Direction very much illustrates that the Commercial Hub is operative and has now adopted some of the measures that were put in place during the difficult times of the Pandemic. These include the requirement for Case Information Forms to be uploaded onto the Electronic Courts Case Management System (BOX), along with the facility for Early Directions Hearings to be dealt with administratively, thereby streamlining the initial directions of the Commercial Court. Case Management Conferences can now also take place as hybrid hearings. The Courts have been operating via their Sightlink services efficiently and this will also ensure that more business can be placed before the Commercial Hub. This is in the interests of both parties and legal representatives. The Commercial Hub encourages parties to agree directions prior to the Early Directions Hearing and, indeed, the Case Management Conferences. It also makes provisions for parties to seek assistance from the Commercial Judge if they are unable to agree directions collaboratively and parties may be able to seek an urgent or bespoke Early Directions Hearing. In addition, representatives have been reminded of their duties to inform the Court or alert the Court if there is any likely or actual breach of any time limit concerned contained within any direction.
The Practice Direction shows how the Commercial Hub has embraced technology with a key change made to the Pre Trial Case Management Conference process as Trial Bundles are no longer required in hard copy.
The Updated Practice Direction will not only assist legal representatives in progressing proceedings before the Commercial Hub but will also be more cost effective for the parties building upon the earlier practice direction.
This article has been produced for general information purposes, and further advice should be sought from a professional advisor. For advice or information, please contact the Dispute Resolution team at Cleaver Fulton Rankin.