I love a good year-end review piece and this one from Herbert Smith Freehills was a great read. And well worth a look if you have some time.
I specifically found the section on Disclosure useful. The Herbert Smith Freehills team cover off the Disclosure Pilot Scheme which has been extended to the end of 2022.
They say that they “expect this is likely to be the last extension to the pilot, with a decision being taken before the end of next year as to the final version of the disclosure rules.” And also comment that “in advance of that decision, we understand that there will be further consultation with the judiciary and with court users, including in order to assess whether and to what extent the pilot saves costs.”
I have to agree with them that this needs to be the last extension now. I’m sure, in an ideal world, the DWG would have had enough feedback (case rulings, judges’ comments etc) in the two-year original timeframe to get the DPS from ‘pilot’ to ‘final’, but there has been a number of unexpected scenarios at play. Certainly, Covid has played a part in case volumes and judge’s rulings and slowed down the overall process. And to an extent, maybe they simply underestimated how long it would take and the amount of work to go from v1 of the pilot to final.
I think the key thing now is that there needs to be a plan put in place and real actions must be taken – this cannot simply be a case of kicking the can down the road.
Another year is drawing to a close, with life feeling much more normal than a year ago but with continued uncertainties as to what the Covid-19 pandemic might throw at us next. The Business and Property Courts have proved to be remarkably resilient in the face of the pandemic, with business continuing pretty much as usual – albeit remotely – throughout lockdown. There has since been a return to in-person hearings, but with continued use of remote or hybrid hearings in appropriate cases.