Judicial Case Management is a system designed to identify and define issues in dispute and to reduce delays, costs and unnecessary pre-trial activities.
It currently operates in the Irish Commercial Court.
It was in operation in the case of Barings plc & anor v Coopers & Lybrand & Ors 2001] EWCA Civ 1163 when the Court of Appeal delivered the following remark:
We heard submissions from Mr Bathurst QC and Mr Aldous QC for Barings Singapore and Barings London respectively. Those submissions had a distinctly old-fashioned flavour. They started with the submission that no rules of court or new practice (such as judges reading the papers in a case before submissions are made to them) could turn inadmissible evidence into admissible evidence. With that, of course, we agree. They further submitted that the decision as to what to pre-read was more than a mere case management decision and, if it was wrong, this Court should be prepared to reverse it.â?
The issue arose because the trial judge was going to read certain documents before the commencement of the trial. Those documents contained inadmissible material.
Under the rules of evidence inadmissible material is, by definition, inadmissible.
The Court of Appeal subscribed to the principle that inadmissible evidence should not be admitted. It also subscribed to the principle that the rules of evidence could not be changed by rules of court or practice. It was the citation of those principles that, it suggested, âhad a distinctly old-fashioned flavour.â?
Nonetheless, it went on to endorse the decision of the judge to read the material.
The case illustrates the implications of substantial procedural change: it can bring with it a pressure to change the law, in this case, of evidence.
That may be necessary, but it should not happen “sub rosa”
Case management has arisen for a number of reasons. For the current subject under consideration it is evidence of dissatisfaction with formal legal proceedings for the resolution of some disputes. The judiciary has responded by introducing case management and some other techniques.
Only time will tell whether this will work out for the best. Some disputes with great potential seriousness seem not capable of resolution by court proceedings, satisfactorily, at least. Often these show great efforts by participants to help resolve the situation.
This natural inclination to do the right thing can be seen in the history of a case HERE
where full credit is due to the High Court judge for his humane approach to his job.