The case management conference is a fundamental part of the proceedings for cases allocated to the multi-track. Case management conferences allow the court to identify (and narrow) the issues in dispute and give directions as to how the case should progress to trial.

The court can exercise its extensive case management powers (Rule 3 of the CPR) in accordance with the overriding objective to narrow the issues in dispute.

CMCs are governed generally by the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 (“CPR”), However, the approach taken by different divisions of the High Court can vary drastically and consideration should be given to any relevant court guides which set out the requirements for the conduct of a CMC in each division.

The CMC will be used to ascertain:

  • The issues in dispute between the parties
  • The likely scale and appropriate manner of disclosure
  • Whether expert evidence will be required
  • Whether the parties have complied with previous directions
  • Early determination of certain issues
  • The timetable to trial
  • The costs of the case
  • Whether any other directions are required

The courts have become much less tolerant of delays and failures to comply with case management orders. Failure to comply with directions in a case management order can have serious consequences for the party in breach, particularly where non-compliance compromises the trial date. A party who fails to keep to the timetable fixed by the court is liable to severe sanctions, including the strike out of statements of case.