REUTERS | Fayaz Kabli

April 2013 digest: it’s all change this month

AA Milne, When we were very young:

“They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace – Christopher Robin went down with Alice.”

The Palace guards may change daily but we all know that the pace of change is much slower in the legal world. That said, the sweeping reforms of the civil justice system, which came into force on 1 April under the auspices of the Jackson reforms, look set to have a significant impact on practitioners. We highlighted just a few issues for those using the TCC and Lord Dyson warned about non-compliance with the new rules. We also got a sneak-preview of how the courts are likely to deal with approved budgets under the new costs management rules.

There were other changes this month. For example, we told you about:

In adjudication, in Scotland Lord Malcolm held there had been a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. The potential ramifications of this judgment are considerable and Alastair Walls discussed some of them, while Jonathan Cope looked at the likelihood of the judgment being followed by the English courts.

South of the border, Ramsey J looked at service of the referral and the meaning of “dispute”. Matt Molloy discussed its implications. Matt also discussed whether adjudicators’ decisions should be published and Jonathan argued for shorter submissions in adjudication. Akenhead J’s judgment in RWE v Bentley may primarily have been about declaratory relief, but Matt wondered if it was really an appeal of the adjudicator’s decision.

April saw court judgments dealing with:

  • The need to plead and prove interest losses to recover compound interest.
  • The distinction between due diligence and reasonable endeavours in an agreement for lease.
  • A council’s liability for compensation under section 106 of the Building Act 1984.
  • A net contribution clause that did not refer to the main contractor.
  • The seller’s enforcement of the payment of a deposit by the buyer after the buyer’s repudiation of the contract.
  • The meaning of a non-disclosure and non-circumvention deed.

Other issues in the spotlight have included a discussion on priority of documents clauses, James Levy’s thoughts on penalties payable when a contract is rescinded, Shy Jackson’s thoughts on good faith clauses, Melissa Moriarty’s views on whether a liquidated damages provision is a penalty, Elizabeth Repper’s look at mediation and costs management after the Jackson reforms and Michael Mendelblat’s discussion of litigants in person and mediation. We also saw the government publish its nuclear industrial strategy.

In addition to March’s monthly case review, public procurement has also been in the news, with:

  • Guidance on tax compliance questions in public procurement documents, which was considered by Katherine Calder.
  • Information on whether you can make a Freedom of Information request.
  • An application for specific and pre-action disclosure in a public procurement dispute.
  • The rejection of an appeal in Northern Ireland.

Finally, as it wouldn’t be the monthly digest without at least a passing reference to the weather, I’m sure everyone noticed that during April there was a welcome return of the sunshine!

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