Status of these statements
Rules Committee final responsibility
Avoiding procedural rules in statutes
Avoiding fragmentation into discrete rule systems
This page contains a number of statements against which the Rules Committee has previously determined it will evaluate proposed amendments to the rules of practice and procedure for which it has responsibility. The Committee will also strive to ensure the amendments it develops for those rules accord with these statements.
However, the Committee may depart from these statements where it considers doing so necessary to ensure consistency between rules adopted and the statutory purpose for rules of practice and procedure. These is stated in s 145 of the Senior Courts Act 2016 as being facilitating the:
- just, speedy, and inexpensive dispatch of the business of the High Court, the Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court; and
- administration of justice.
Rule 1.2 of the High Court Rules states "These rules shall be so construed as to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of any proceeding or interlocutory application". Rule 1.3 of the District Court Rules is identical.
Although Government departments, the Law Commission, and other agencies may suggest rule changes, the Committee will independently review the proposed rules and has final responsibility. The Committee welcomes participation by agency representatives, including their attendance at committee meetings.
Representatives of all public sector and other agencies, or any group within the legal profession or wider community, may request to attend any Committee meeting. Where they have previously been in contact with a Committee member, that request may be made to any such member. Absent such contact, requests to attend can be made to the Chair through the Clerk to the Committee using the details provided on this page.
Detailed procedures should be in separately promulgated rules and not in statutes.
Including detailed procedure in a statute leads to:
- Anomalies between the particular procedure in question and all other forms of litigation;
- Difficulties in administering court systems containing inconsistent procedures;
- Freezing of the statutory procedure without opportunity to keep pace with the improvements and changes constantly going on in court processes; and
- Non-compliance by the legal profession and laypersons due to lack of familiarity and accessibility.
Wherever possible, procedural rules, directions, and guidelines should be absorbed into the principal rules. Discrete sets of rules governing particular forms of proceeding should be avoided. Examples where it has been necessary to actively apply this policy against contrary views have included insolvency, admiralty, the Commercial List, probate and administration, companies winding up, patents, election petitions, and habeas corpus.
The policy is based on the need for consistency and accessibility.
Rules are required to be clear, concise, simple, and consistent, and should avoid duplication.
At the meeting on 31 March 2014, the Rules Committee adopted a document on setting out the general principles of civil justice and the key principles of civil procedure to guide the Committee in reviewing and reforming rules of civil procedure. This document can be found here.