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Plans to tackle backlog and delays at Court of Appeal (CoA) revealed

27th May 2016

The Civil Procedure Rule Committee (CPRC) plans to raise the threshold for appeals as part of a package of proposals designed to help the Court of Appeal (CoA) cope with a ‘serious backlog’.

Lord Dyson, Master of the rolls, noted that the volume of cases in the CoA has risen by 59% in the past five years, with no increase in judicial resources. This has caused a growing backlog and substantial delays.

A freedom of information request from the Gazette last summer showed that the number of adjourned trials at the court increased by 75% in a year.

Proposed reforms include increasing the threshold for granting permission to appeal in the civil division of the CoA from a ‘real prospect of success’ to a ‘substantial prospect of success’.

The new standard would mean that appeals would be granted where it is ‘seriously arguable’ that an error has been made, rather than the current standard which requires appellants to show the prospects of success are not merely fanciful.

The committee also proposes to remove the right of a litigant to require a refusal of permission to appeal (or other application to the court) based on consideration of the documents to be reconsidered at a court hearing. This would be replaced with discretion for the judge who considers whether permission to appeal (or other application) should be granted to decide to call the case in for an oral hearing, if they think it appropriate as a matter of case management.

In addition, it is proposed to refine the Practice Direction governing the conduct of civil appeals in the CoA to make it more user-friendly and to prevent the court from ‘drowning in paper’.