LAW REPORT: Changes to improve appeal procedures

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Practice Statement: Procedural Changes; Court of Appeal (Sir Thomas Bingham MR);

26 July 1995

It is generally accepted that steps must be taken to improve existing procedures and shorten the time currently spent on oral argument of cases in court. The accompanying practice direction aims to ensure applications and appeals are handled and decided as efficiently and expeditiously as is practicable consistently with fairness and sound decision-making. The court hopes it may be possible to identify cases susceptible to settlement by mediation and it is hoped to introduce a trial scheme.

Practice Direction; Court of

Appeal (Sir Thomas Bingham MR); 26 July 1995

This practice direction supersedes Practice Directions [1989] 1 All ER 891; [1989] 1 WLR 281; [1990] 2 All ER 318; [1990] 1 WLR 794; [1987] 3 All ER 434; [1987] 1 WLR 1422 (so far as it deals with time estimates and listing); [1990] 2 All ER 1024; [1990] 1 WLR 1126 (handed down judgments in lieu of transcripts); [1986] 3 All ER 630; [1986] 1 WLR 1318 (which deals with appeal bundles). The practice direction came into force on 4 September 1995.

In applications to the Court of Appeal for leave to appeal on paper or in an oral hearing, the applicant should not burden the court with documents not relevant to the application. The Civil Appeals Office sets out the court's requirements concerning bundles.

Where the applicant is legally aided and the single Lord Justice has refused leave on paper, the applicant's solicitor must send to the relevant legal aid office a copy of the single Lord Justice's order.

On a paper application applicants must provide the single Lord Justice with a clear and succinct summary of the grounds unless they are plain in the notice of appeal. If the single Lord Justice grants leave or directs an oral hearing, directions may given on the time for oral argument and the lodging and service of skeleton arguments.

The time limits for lodging bundles and skeletons for an oral hearing of an application for leave are set out. The applicant's oral argument will be expected to be completed within 20 minutes and that time limit will be extended only if the court considers more extended argument is required.

Where an application for leave is listed for hearing with the appeal to follow if leave is granted, the timetable for skeletons will be the same as in the case of an appeal.

On renewed applications for leave to move for judicial review the applicant, if in person, or his advocate will be expected to complete his oral argument within 30 minutes.

Solicitors for the appellant must lodge an estimate of the length of the appeal hearing exclusive of judgment. The respondent's advocate must notify the Civil Appeals Office if his estimate differs. Any revised time estimate must be lodged in writing.

Each appeal is given a target date or hear-by date. Appeals are designated fixtures, second fixtures or assigned to the short-warned list. Skeleton arguments should identify and summarise the points, not argue them fully on paper. In a normal length appeal of 1-2 days, skeletons should not exceed 10 pages in the case of an appeal on law and 15 pages in an appeal on fact. The court will direct the timetable for skeleton arguments as prescribed in the practice direction. In order to assist litigants in person two leaflets have been prepared by the Civil Appeals Office.

Part II of the practice direction sets out revised requirements concerning the form and content of appeal bundles. Transcripts lodged must be official copies provided by the shorthand-writers or transcribers. Where the judge handed down judgment, photocopies of that handed-down judgment, signed by the judge, can be lodged for an appeal in lieu of the official transcript. Where an ex tempore judgment was given, the appellant's solicitor should make arrangements for the note of judgment to be prepared and agreed with the respondent and then submitted to the judge as soon as the notice of appeal has been served.

Where the bundles of documents comprise more than 100 pages, a core bundle containing the documents central to the appeal must be lodged. Bundles must be paginated and indexed. All documents must be bound together. All documents must be legible. Time limits will be strictly enforced except where there are good grounds for granting an extension. The solicitor in charge of the case must personally satisfy himself that the documentation is in order before it is delivered to the court.