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Practice and Procedure of the Commercial Court

Page 259 CHAPTER 9 TRIALS IN THE COMMERCIAL COURT Introduction One of the most important underlying assumptions of the CPRs and the Commercial Court Guide (and indeed the new Report and Recommendations of the Long Trials Working Party) is that the overriding objective of dealing with cases expeditiously, fairly, with the saving of expense and the allocation of an appropriate share of the court resources, can be achieved by active and very detailed pre-trial management aimed at ensuring that the trial of the case proceeds quickly and efficiently. This has resulted in emphasis being placed upon adherence to pre-trial timetables and in the introduction of timetables for the trial itself. 1 Duties are imposed upon the parties’ representatives, in particular their advocates, to produce accurate estimates not only of the likely length of the trial, 2 but also of the time it might take the judge to read into the case, 3 the time it might take to cross-examine particular witnesses and the length of opening and closing submissions. 4 Those responsible for the CPRs, the Commercial Court Guide and the Report have a strong belief in the efficacy of prognostication and planning. For present purposes the importance of the new approach lies in the fact that the course of the proceedings and the trial is set at the case management conference or pre-trial review stages of the case. Subsequent departures from that course which might or do result in waste or inefficiency are likely either not to be permitted or to be met with adverse orders as to costs, usually payable immediately in accordance with the summary assessment procedure. 5

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