Tonight I’m going to party like it’s 1999!
I don’t know how many of you remember 1999, but it was also a year when we faced a degree of uncertainty and fear.
For many, that uncertainty and fear related to whether the millennium bug was true or just scaremongering. Would all the computers in the world automatically turn off at midnight on 31st December, with all the ensuing chaos that would follow? Of course it didn’t, but we were all still worried.
For those who were in the legal profession at the time, particularly those litigators amongst you, you’ll remember another degree of fear and uncertainty in 1999, produced by a complete overhaul of the rules that govern how we run court cases. Out went everything I had learned and worked with for over 10 years, and in came the Court Procedure Rules. We no longer had writs, we had part 7 claim forms. We no longer had F&BPs, but we had part 18 requests for information. And time summonses (which is how I learned to do advocacy) were to be a thing of the past.
When I think back now to how much better the system is, I laugh at how we used to do things, but at the time it was a minefield. Even harder for the older members of my team who struggled to accept the new ways of doing things so that us younger members had to translate for them. Yes, I know you think you are the Plaintiff, but actually you are the Claimant.
The changes last time around were bought in just because it was time for a change. This year, however, I can see the potential for big changes again, out of necessity rather than just because it’s time. In fact, these are changes that we probably should have introduced years ago, but better late than never.
In particular, I’ve read a report of a four day trial in the Court of Protection, complete with Counsel, three expert witnesses and mountains of paperwork, which was conducted entirely by Skype following the lockdown. Clearly the whole thing was a huge success with minimal disadvantages and huge amount of time and money saved. As much of the money for the court system comes from taxpayers, clearly this is good news for all of us.
So let’s hope that this forced foray into the world of technology will help the judiciary see that it’s time we had another overhaul, and another party!
Kleyman & Co Solicitors. The full service law firm. Always happy to celebrate.