The new Supreme Court practice direction 18 of 2008 – Efficient Conduct of Civil Litigation requires extensive steps to be taken at all stages of the litigation and commences on filing the claim.
The steps include conferencing, document management protocols, an electronic preference for disclosure and document management, including at trial; agreed document plan, identification of critical documents, development of a resolution bundle, conferring to narrow issues in dispute, identifying issues and steps for the just and expeditious resolution of those issues at a minimum expense.
Parties are directed to avoid having to prove facts and documents, not in contention unnecessarily, at the sanction of cost penalties against practitioners.
Pleadings remain central to the trial, but to aid the court, the parties are directed to prepare a list of the real issues in dispute, and are directed to agree on the issues and if not, they should seek to resolve it by a case conference before the Resolution Registrar or a review/directions hearing before a Judge.
A trial plan is required and includes particulars of the length, witnesses, expert witnesses and the mode and sequencing of their evidence, durations of the openings, each witnesses evidence and submissions. The conference to develop the trial plan is to be attended by the counsel or solicitor with the responsibility of conducting the trial.
The parties are directed to take care to avoid calling or cross-examining witnesses if it is not a serious contention or can be proven in another format or admitted. If there remains substantial disagreement about the matter being ready for trial the parties should seek to resolve it by a case conference before the Resolution Registrar or a review/directions hearing before a Judge.
Proceedings which are anticipated or require significant court supervision should be placed on the Supervised Case List.
David Cormack – Brisbane Barrister & Mediator