Guidance concerning the type of claims which are suitable for trial by a District Judge

  • 14/07/2015

(Given by the Chancery Supervising Judges with the authority of The Chancellor)

1. The objective of the revisions to Practice Direction PD7 was to bring the power to undertake trials of Part 7 claims more into line with the present power of District Judges to undertake the trial of Part 8 claims.

2. This note provides broad guidance which will be developed in the light of experience.

3. The release of the restrictions preventing District Judges trying Part 7 claims without the consent of the parties is intended (a) to facilitate the efficient use of judicial resources in the High Court (b) to further the requirements of the overriding objective and (c) to remove from the parties the power to determine what level of judge should determine their dispute and to make clear that this is a case management function of the Court itself. However, trials by District Judges are likely to be the exception due to the pressure of other work currently undertaken by them.

4. In any District Registry it will be essential only to list trials before District Judges if the volume of case management work can still be disposed of efficiently and expeditiously. To that end District Registries should put in place a procedure under which a District Judge proposing to undertake the trial of a Part 7 claim (with or without the consent of the parties) can obtain the approval of a specialist Chancery s.9 judge (who, in granting or withholding approval will take into account not only the complexity, value, significance and novelty of the case together with all other relevant factors but also the business needs of the District Registry).

5. District Judges should not try claims involving issues of particular legal or factual complexity and should not normally try cases where the trial is estimated to last more than 5 days (including pre-reading but excluding the preparation of any reserved judgment).

6.Trials by District Judges will normally be conducted in cases otherwise falling within trial category C (and particularly where the legal issues arising in the claim fall within the areas of expertise of the District Judge).

7. Preliminary issues may well be suitable for trial by a District Judge, such as where the speedy determination of issues may assist the parties to settle the overall claim.

8. Careful consideration should be given to objections by a party to trial by a District Judge. The wishes of the parties, however, are merely one factor to be taken into account.

9. If there is doubt about the application of this guidance then further guidance should be obtained from the Supervising Judge or from one of the specialist Chancery s.9 judges.