Central London County Court Guide 2020

The County Court at Central London (“CCCL”) is the venue for the Business and Property work done in London and the South East outside the High Court.

The new Guide (published in January 2020) does not have the force of law and is not a substitute for the Civil Procedure Rules (“CPR”) and Practice Directions (“PDs”). The Guide is accompanied by 3 annexes.

Precedent Draft Directions are set out at the end of this note.

The Guide states (amongst other things):

Scope of Business & Property work
4. The Business & Property work undertaken at CCCL includes the following:
4.1 Work of the type within the Property, Trusts and Probate List of the High Court such as:
Real property
Landlord & tenant (both residential and commercial). The most complex/valuable business tenancy renewal cases will proceed as Business & Property work
Trusts
Contentious probate claims
4.2 Work of the type within the Business List of the High Court such as:
Contractual disputes
Claims for specific performance, rectification and other equitable remedies
Professional negligence (for example, claims against solicitors and surveyors).
4.3 Insolvency and Companies work. This includes personal insolvency cases, company insolvency work transferred from the High Court or other County Court hearing centres, disqualification of directors, and company cases (for example, unfair prejudice petitions, claims to restore companies to the register, to rectify the register, and to extend time for the registration of charges).
5. That list is not exhaustive. A full definition of Business & Property work in the County Court can be found in para. 4.2 of CPR PD 57AA – Business and Property Courts.
Case management
11. Cases are usually transferred to CCCL by the High Court at an early stage. They are listed for a costs and case management conference (Part 7 claims) or for directions or disposal (Part 8 claims). These first hearings are short, usually between 30 minutes and an hour, and are not a trial. They are used to move the case towards trial where there is any substantial dispute.
12. All cases, whether transferred to CCCL or issued here, will normally be retained by the judge dealing with the case at the first hearing. That judge will, if at all possible, hear the trial and any pre-trial review.
13. Unless otherwise ordered, there should be sent to the Court by email 3 days before the first hearing the following documents (agreed if possible): a brief case summary (of not more than 500 words), a list of issues, and proposed directions (using our template – see the next paragraph).
14. Case management directions in Part 7 claims will normally be given by adapting the draft directions template attached at Annex A to the particular case. Parties should therefore use such template when agreeing and submitting proposed directions. Part 8 claims are typically decided without cross examination or disclosure.
16. The subject heading of the email must start with the claim number. Business & Property cases are given a case number taking the form G10CLxxxx, where the initial letter indicates the year (F having been used for 2019, and G being used for 2020), 10 designates the case as Business & Property work, CL refers to CCCL, and there is then a unique 3 or 4 digit number.
17. The directions will normally provide for the listing of the trial and will do so by (a) setting a 3-month trial window, and (b) directing a telephone listing appointment. That appointment will usually be around 3 weeks after the case management hearing. The standard order for the telephone listing appointment forms part of the template at Annex A.
Interim applications
Normal business
18. An interim application may be issued by (a) sending an Application Notice in form N244 by email to enquiries.centrallondon.countycourt@justice.gov.uk if the legal representative has a fee account or payment is to be made by card, (b) leaving the application in the dropbox located by the first floor counter, or (c) sending the application by post to the court at County Court at Central London, Royal Courts of Justice, Thomas More Building, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London WC2A 2LL, or by DX to DX 44453 Strand.
19. The Court staff aim to put applications in Business & Property cases before a judge within 5 to 10 working days of receipt. But if the case has been assigned to a particular Circuit Judge at the first hearing, the parties are encouraged to email a copy of the issued application to the judge’s clerk in order to bring it to the judge’s early attention.
20. The Circuit Judges generally hear Business & Property applications each Friday. An application will normally be listed on the first convenient Friday after two weeks. Applications to be heard by District Judges will be listed for a convenient date.
Urgent business
21. There is, however, a process for applications that cannot wait. It is to be used only for applications that are genuinely urgent. An example is an application affecting a trial that is less than four weeks away.
22. The urgent Application Notice should be submitted by email to centrallondonurgentbandp@justice.gov.uk . The body of the email should contain a succinct statement of reasons as to why the application is urgent and cannot wait to be heard in due turn. The email and attachment will be shown to either HHJ Dight CBE or HHJ Johns QC as soon as possible so that arrangements can be made for the application to be heard.
23. If the application has yet to be issued, an urgent appointment for issue at the first floor counter in the Thomas More Building should be made using the appointments telephone number 0207 947 7502.
24. There is no out of hours service. Any parties requiring such a service should use the Royal Courts of Justice emergency telephone number, 020 7947 6000/6260, and request the Duty Chancery Judge’s clerk.
Trials
28. In order to avoid disruption to other litigants and to ensure that each case does not take more than its proper share of court resources, parties will be required to complete each trial in the time allotted save in exceptional circumstances.
29. It is therefore important that time estimates for trial are realistic. Such estimates need not include time for preparation of judgment (as this will be added by the judge as appropriate) but should include time for judicial pre-reading. For guidance, parties will often be required to attend only from 11 am in a 3 day case, from 12 noon in a 4 day case and from 2 pm in a case of 5 days or more.
30. Skeleton arguments should, unless otherwise ordered, be sent to the Court at least 2 days before the trial to centrallondoncjskel@justice.gov.uk (to reach a Circuit Judge) or centrallondondjskel@justice.gov.uk (to reach a District Judge).
31. An indexed and paginated bundle of documents for the trial should, unless otherwise ordered, be delivered to Court at least 3 days before the trial. Parties should arrange delivery of the trial bundles directly with the judge’s clerk if possible. Otherwise, they can be lodged at the first floor counter in the Thomas More Building between 9 and 10 am.
32. If settlement or some other development means that a trial listing can be vacated or shortened, the parties must inform the Court immediately (by emailing the trial judge’s clerk if possible) so that the time saved can be used for the benefit of other litigants.
33. Robes will be worn for trials, appeals, applications for committal, and directors’ disqualification hearings. Robes are not otherwise worn.
Orders
34. If a draft order is requested by the Court following a hearing such will normally be required within 2 working days and should be sent by email (to the Circuit Judge’s clerk if the case has been heard by a Circuit Judge) and be in Word format. Like other documents in the case, orders should be marked “Business & Property Work”.
Mediation
39. CCCL has an independent mediation service administered by CEDR available to all parties to help them resolve their disputes. Each mediation takes place in the court buildings after court hours, is confidential, without prejudice and is conducted by an accredited mediator. The total cost to the parties is £900 plus VAT, usually shared equally. A party in receipt of legal aid may recover his/her share of the cost as a permitted disbursement. Further details of the mediation service and an application form are available at https://www.cedr.com/solve/clcc/’

Precedent Draft Directions (based upon the Annex A Template that I recently drafted for a trust case in the Chancery List of the CLCC for the First CMC)

Claim no. [ ]
IN THE COUNTY COURT AT CENTRAL LONDON BUSINESS AND PROPERTY WORK (CHANCERY) LIST
BUSINESS AND PROPERTY COURTS OF ENGLAND AND WALES PROPERTY TRUSTS AND PROBATE LIST (CHD)
IN THE ESTATE OF [ ] DECEASED
BETWEEN:
[‘Beneficiary’] Claimant
and
(1) [Trustee ‘A’]
First Defendant
(2) [Trustee ‘B’]
Second Defendant
________________
DRAFT O R D E R
________________

Warning: you must comply with the terms imposed upon you by this order otherwise your case is liable to be struck out or some other sanction imposed. If you cannot comply you are expected to make formal application to the court before any deadline imposed upon you expires.
Before His Honour Judge [ ] on [ ] 2020
UPON HEARING Carl Islam (Counsel for the Claimant), [ ] (Counsel for the First Defendant) and [ ] (Counsel for the Second Defendant)
IT IS ORDERED that:
Important: Mediation Scheme
1. The parties are strongly encouraged to use mediation or other alternative dispute resolution to resolve this dispute. It can achieve an earlier and less costly resolution than a trial. The County Court at Central London has an independent mediation service administered by CEDR available to all parties to help them resolve disputes. Each mediation takes place in the court buildings after court hours, is confidential, without prejudice and is conducted by an accredited mediator. The total cost to the parties is £900 plus VAT, usually shared equally. A party in receipt of legal aid may recover his/her share of the cost as a permitted disbursement. Further details of the mediation service and an application form are available at https://www.cedr.com/solve/clcc/. Parties will be expected to provide an explanation if mediation or other ADR is not attempted. Costs consequences may follow.
Allocation and assignment
2. The claim is allocated to the multi-track and will proceed as Business and Property work in the Business and Property List under claim number: [ ].
3. The claim is assigned to His Honour Judge [ ] for case management and trial.
Stay
4. The case shall be stayed for [ ] to allow the parties to try to settle the dispute by alternative dispute resolution or other means.
5. The parties shall notify the Court at the end of that period whether settlement has been reached.
6. The parties may agree to extend the stay for the purpose granted for up to [ ] from the date of this order without reference to the Court and shall notify the Court in writing of the expiry date of any such extension.
7. Any request for a further extension after [ ] shall be referred to the Court.
8. Any party has permission to apply in relation to the extension.
Disclosure
9. Disclosure of documents is directed as follows:
Standard Disclosure
9.1 Each party shall give to the other parties standard disclosure of documents on Form N265 by 4.00pm on [ ] 2020.
9.2 All requests for inspection of or a copy of a document must be made by 4.00pm on [ ] 2020. Copies of requested documents to be supplied by 4pm on [ ] 2020.
Electronic Disclosure
9.3 By 4.00pm on [ ] the First and Second Defendants shall reply in writing to the proposals for e-disclosure set out in the Claimant’s Electronic Documents Questionnaire dated [ ].
9.4 Further to CPR, PD 31B, by 4.00pm on [ ] 2020 the parties shall discuss and attempt to agree the scope of the reasonable search for Electronic Documents required by rule 31.7 in relation to the issues in dispute, and the tools, techniques and methodology to be applied, including:
(a) the list of custodians and devices;
(b) the list of senders and recipients;
(c) the date range; and
(d) the list of key words.
Telephone appointment
9.5 In default of agreement, there will be a telephone appointment on the first available date after [ ].
Witness Statements
10. Each party to serve on every other party the Witness Statements of the oral evidence which the party serving the Witness Statements intends to rely on in relation to any issues of fact to be decided at Trial, those Witness Statements and any notices of intention to rely on hearsay evidence to be exchanged by 4.00pm on [ ] 2020.
11. Oral evidence of fact is limited to [ ] witnesses per party.
12. Oral evidence will not be permitted at trial from a witness whose statement has not been served in accordance with this order or has been served late, except with permission from the Court.
Expert Evidence
13. Expert evidence is directed as follows:
13.1 Each party has permission to adduce expert evidence in the form of written reports only in the fields of:
(a) [ ]; and
(b) breach of fiduciary duties; the Executors’ duty of care and investment duties under the Trustee Act 2000 or otherwise.
13.2 The experts for the Claimant shall be:
(a) [ ]; and
(b) [ ] in relation to:
(i) breach of fiduciary duties; and
(ii) the Executors’ general duty of care and specific investment duties under the Trustee Act 2000 or otherwise.
13.3 The experts for the First and Second Defendants shall be:
(a) [ ]; and
(b) [ ].
13.4 The experts shall before they exchange reports, discuss and narrow the issues between them.
13.5 The experts reports shall be exchanged by 4pm on [ ] 2020.
13.6 Expert reports to be agreed if possible. If not, the experts shall hold without prejudice discussions and prepare and serve a statement of issues agreed and issues not agreed with a summary of the reasons for any disagreement by 4.00pm on [ ] 2020.
13.7 The experts may apply direct to the court for directions where necessary under CPR 35.14.
13.8 Experts to attend for cross examination at the trial unless agreed by the parties or otherwise ordered by the Court.
Pre-Trial Directions
14. The Parties shall file Pre-Trial Checklists by [8 weeks before trial window].
15. There will be a pre-trial review [4] weeks before the date fixed for trial, with a time estimate of [45] minutes.
16. At least 3 days before the pre-trial review the Claimant must file using centrallondoncjskel@justice.gov.uk / centrallondondjskel@justice.gov.uk and send to the other party or parties preferably agreed:
16.1 a case summary (500 words max);
16.2 a list of issues;
16.3 draft directions (if any);
16.4 a trial timetable
17. Where all parties are represented, they may vacate the pre-trial review by filing at least 3 days before the hearing a joint certificate from their solicitors confirming that:
17.1 all directions have been complied with; and
17.2 the case is ready for trial.
The certificate must be accompanied by an agreed trial timetable.
Trial listing
18. The case shall be listed for trial before His Honour Judge [ ] in a 3-month trial window commencing on [ ] with a time estimate of [ ] days.
19. There will be a telephone listing appointment on the first available date after [ ] in order to list the pre-trial review and the trial:
19.1 The listing appointment will be conducted as a telephone conference pursuant to PD 26.3; relevant information will be sent out with the notice of the date of the listing appointment;
19.2 Each party must have dates to avoid for parties, witnesses and advocates;
19.3 The parties are encouraged to agree a list of such dates, in which case one party may phone (without setting up a formal telephone conference) on behalf of all, provided that party certifies that all others have agreed. On receipt of the required information the Court will arrange the date over the phone at the time of the call;
19.4 If the telephone appointment is not set up and the required information is not received by the time stated, the court will proceed to list. In either case a formal notice of hearing will also be sent by post. Thereafter, the hearing date will not be altered except on application on notice to a Circuit Judge;
19.5 No telephone call after the appointment date and time will be considered or otherwise dealt with unless directed by the Court.
20. The parties must inform the Court immediately if the case settles.
Preparation for trial
21. Not more than 7 nor less than 3 days before the trial, the Claimant must file at Court and serve on the other parties an indexed and paginated bundle of documents for trial which complies with the requirements of CPR Practice Direction 32, para.27.
22. The parties are to exchange skeleton arguments and send copies to the Court by email to centrallondoncjskel@justice.gov.uk / centrallondondjskel@justice.gov.uk at least 3 days before the trial together with an updated list of issues and a chronology (both agreed if possible).
Definition and reduction of issues
23. By [ ] 2020, the parties shall list and discuss the issues in the Claim and attempt to define and narrow the issues.
Compliance with directions
24. The parties shall by [ ] 2020, notify the Court in writing, that they have fully complied with all directions, or state:
24.1 with which directions they have not complied;
24.2 why they have not complied; and
24.3 what steps they are taking to comply with the outstanding directions in time for the Trial.
25. If the Court does not receive such notification or if the steps proposed to comply with outstanding directions are considered by the Court unsatisfactory, the Court may order a hearing (and may make appropriate orders as to costs against the party in default).
Costs management
26. The parties’ costs to be incurred shall be managed in accordance with their budgets agreed or approved as set out below:
26.1 The Claimant’s costs budget in the sum of [£ ].
26.2 The First Defendant’s costs budget in the sum of [£ ].
26.3 The Second Defendant’s costs budget in the sum of [£].
27. The parties are to file and serve a revised Precedent H (front sheet only) within 7 days.
Extensions of time
28. Save where otherwise provided for, the above dates and time limits may be extended by up to 28 days by written agreement between the parties. Nevertheless:
28.1 the dates relating to Trial and PTR cannot be varied without the permission of the Court; and
28.2 the remaining dates and time limits may not be extended by more than 28 days without the permission of the Court.
Costs
29. The costs of today are costs in the case.

Dated:
His Honour Judge [ ]