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Different courts are introducing their own directions as to the provisional assessment process (and rewriting the rules in places).
The Senior Courts Costs Office requests that the receiving party’s full file of papers is filed with the Court rather than just the limited documents provided for within the Practice Direction. This is a very sensible requirement and the Practice Direction allows the Court to order the filing of any papers it considers appropriate (although the Practice Direction did not, perhaps, envisage that everything would be requested in every case).
Other courts are ordering that “optional” Replies are served in every case.
Some courts are expressly inviting parties to serve Replies not limited to points of principle and concessions only (in direct contradiction of PD 47 para.12.1).
Other courts are annotating Precedent G: “in the absence of a reply from receiving party, I assess this item as per the paying party’s offer”, clearly not being aware why no reply has been given (see PD 47 para.12.1 again).
This nonsense has to stop.
A judge at a sufficiently senior level needs to get to grips with this urgently.
It is perfectly possible (for “possible” read “obvious”) that the provisional assessment rules were not very well thought out or well drafted. Nevertheless, any revision to the rules should be applied consistently and after proper consultation (this could be done in the space of a few weeks with appropriate stakeholders), not piecemeal and at the whim of different judges rewriting the rules to their own design.
There. I’ve said it.