By Tríona Walsh, Solicitor, Litigation Department
What is Case Progression?
Case progression is a case management system where specific issues in a dispute are identified and efforts are made to either resolve or narrow those issues prior to trial by engaging in discussions with one another or by having experts come together to reach agreement on certain issues. The aim of narrowing the issues before trial is to either reach early settlement or have shorter hearings and to significantly reduce costs.
The Law on Case Progression
The case progression system has already been operating in relation to family law proceedings. This was expanded on 1st January 2010 to include all court proceedings in the Circuit Court involving actions on foot of a succession law civil bill and equity law proceedings. Further categories of court proceedings may also in the future be governed by case progression. However, actions for possession or for well-charging relief are specifically excluded. Similar provisions have also already been brought into force in the High Court.
How do Parties Engage in Case Progression?
The County Registrar can make enquiries in relation to whether the parties wish to engage in the case progression process and whether there are any issues which could possibly be narrowed prior to trial. A direction may be given by a County Registrar or judge for parties to engage in case progression where it is satisfied that it would be appropriate to do so. Parties can also issue a motion for case progression where they wish to engage in the process.
The case progression process is overseen by the local County Registrar. Questionnaires are completed by both sides and then a hearing is held by the County Registrar. The County Registrar ensures all documents have been prepared and served in preparation for trial, identifies the issues between the parties and orders appropriate discovery. The rules also provide that he may make directions on “any other matters which he may deem to be expedient or necessary”.
The Advantages of the Case Progression Process
Often, a case can reach the date of trial without engineers or other experts ever consulting with one another over the most important aspects of a case. The County Registrar may direct that certain expert witnesses consult with one another in an effort to come to an agreement on certain issues. For example, in succession rights cases where there is a dispute over the valuation of lands, the County Registrar can direct that the valuers meet and attempt to reach agreement on the valuation of the lands. Similarly, in cases where there is boundary dispute or an allegation of trespass, respective engineers can be directed to meet to attempt to reach agreement on boundary lines. The narrowing of issues by case progression results in cases being significantly shortened, leading to a saving of costs or even proceedings being settled in their entirety.
The costs of the case progression hearings may be ordered against either party by the County Registrar.
Case progression aims to narrow the issues in dispute between parties so that cases are settled more frequently before trial, or, where a trial is still necessary, the hearing will be significantly shorter as some issues will already have been agreed upon. The result will be a saving of time and costs for the parties.
If you require further information on case progression please contact a member of our Litigation Department.
Case Progression has been expanded to equity proceedings.
Advantages of case progression include cost and time savings.