The Law Society Gazette of 23 April 2018 contains a report on the publication of the most recent update to the Civil Procedure Rules and supplementary documents.
The report conflates two policy strands – introduction of legal advisers and introduction of fixed recoverable costs in travel package claims – and notes that ‘the adoption of legal advisers for sickness claims is the first formal use of the scheme since the pilot’. A pilot programme testing the use of legal advisers to deal with routine paperwork, which would usually be dealt with by a district judge sitting in a county court, has been running for three years. The functions that a legal adviser, who is a solicitor or barrister retained by Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunal Service, may perform are limited to those set out in the practice direction. The pilot has now ended and the authority giving a legal adviser authority to undertake certain functions is formalised in the rules, and those functions are set out in practice direction 2E.
The article gives an inaccurate impression that the recent amendments formalising the delegation of powers to legal advisers and the new provisions in relation to travel package claims are connected. They are completely unrelated. Legal advisers will continue to undertake work permitted by the rule and practice direction for all types of claim issued in the County Court Business Centre or County Court Money Claims Centre and may eventually make a determination in a travel package claim, if the matter is one that can be determined by a legal adviser.
This interpretation may have arisen because the statutory instrument (SI) which brings in new rules and amendments to the rules into force is a consolidating SI. All SIs made since the first SI, made in 1998, are amendments to the 1998 SI. Each SI subsequent to the 1998 SI may contain amendments implementing one or more policy initiatives and each policy initiative may result in amendments to only one, or several parts of the CPR, and different policy initiatives may result in changes to the same parts of the CPR, but are independent of each other.
I would be grateful if clarification of the use of legal advisers in the context of travel package claims could be published.
Jane Wright, secretary to the Civil Procedure Rule Committee
Editor’s note: the MoJ confirmed the story as written to our reporter, but it is clear there has been some miscommunication. We are happy to clarify the position.