A morning spent in the company of the Civil Procedure Rule Committee might not be everyone’s idea of fun, but there was plenty to enjoy when the meeting was opened to the public last week.
For a start, the committee, which draws up procedural rules (the clue’s in the name), was moved from its usual basement room to the top floor of the Ministry of Justice, complete with panoramic views. A view over London was certainly welcome as the discussion on a housing matters sub-committee ticked over 30 minutes.
Obiter’s highlights included members debating Latin grammar, the rush to conclude matters once the sandwiches turned up (the committee had sat non-stop for almost five hours), and the question of a collective noun for masters of the rolls. (‘A dithering’ was one off-the-cuff suggestion.)
And Obiter got the sense that members are just a little tired of the constant legislative changes foisted upon them by meddling government ministers.
Faced with essentially an afternoon to sign off rules around the new Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act, chair Lord Justice Coulson noted: ‘This was one of those examples where the committee gets something which is not in the right shape… If we could be guaranteed two years of no government legislation we could get these things in order.’ Given the current paralysis in Westminster, the learned LJ might just get his wish.