RULE CHANGES COMING INTO FORCE IN APRIL 2021(1): VULNERABLE WITNESSES AND THE OVERRIDING OBJECTIVE
There are some rule changes coming into force in April this year, introduced by the Civil Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2021, these come into force on the 6th April 2021.
AMENDMENT TO THE OVERRIDING OBJECTIVE
The new rules are referred to, but not linked to, in the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary website. So far as the overriding objective is concerned the website states that the new rule
“amends the CPR’s Overriding Objective, following the recommendation in the report by the Civil Justice Council on Vulnerable Witnesses (published in February 2020) in civil proceedings. The amendment makes it clear that dealing with a case justly includes ensuring that the parties can participate fully, and that parties and witnesses can give their best evidence. It also deals with the costs (not Fixed Recoverable Costs) provision for additional work or expense incurred due to vulnerability of a party or witness.”
VULNERABLE WITNESSES IN CIVIL PROCEEDINGS
This issue was looked at on this blog in April 2018 when Professor Penny Cooper looked at the guidance that was available to the civil courts to assist vulnerable witnesses.
The Civil Justice Council issued a consultation paper in August 2019.
This led to the Civil Justice Council publishing “Vulnerable Witnesses and Parties within Civil Proceedings” in February 2020. It was this paper that led to the rule change and the Practice Direction set out below.
THE NEW PRACTICE DIRECTION
We do have the full text of a new Practice Direction 1A, in relation to the participation of vulnerable witnesses.