PRACTICE DIRECTION 51P – PILOT FOR INSOLVENCY EXPRESS TRIALS
|Commencement of IET proceedings||Paragraph 2|
|Directions hearing||Paragraph 3|
(1) This Practice Direction is made under rule 51.2. It provides for a pilot scheme (“IET”) to operate—
(a) from 1 April 2016 to 6 April 2020;
(b) in the Bankruptcy and Companies Courts of the Chancery Division of the High Court;
(c) in relation to proceedings before the Bankruptcy Registrars.
(2) IET is designed to deal with simple applications made to a Bankruptcy Registrar:
(a) which can be disposed of in no more than two days;
(b) which require limited directions (as opposed to case management) and disclosure of documents; and
(c) where the costs of each party will not exceed £75,000 (excluding VAT and court fees but including any conditional fee agreement uplift).
(1) IET works within and is subject to the—
(a) Insolvency Act 1986;
(b) Insolvency Rules 1986;
(c) Practice Direction – Insolvency Proceedings (Chancery Division, 29 July 2014,  B.C.C. 502;  B.P.I.R. 1286);
(d) Cross-Border Insolvency Regulations 2006 (SI 2006/1030);
(e) Administration of Insolvent Estates of Deceased Persons Order 1986 (SI 1986/1999);
(f) Limited Liability Partnerships Regulations 2001, EC Regulation on Insolvency Proceedings no 1346/2000 of 29 May 2000.
(2) Parties will also need to give careful consideration to the Chancery Guide.
2.1 IET proceedings must be commenced by application (Form 7.1A in schedule 4 Insolvency Rules 1986). The application must—
(a) be marked “IET” clearly in bold on the first page of the application;
(b) include a statement at the end of the application that the case is suitable for the IET list; and
(c) include a statement at the end of the application that the respondent is entitled to object to the use of the IET procedure (see paragraph 2.6 for the procedure if the respondent objects).
2.2 The application should include the following—
(a) a statement of the relief sought;
(b) a description of the nature of the dispute;
(c) a summary of the issues likely to arise in the application;
(d) the applicant’s contentions, including material facts upon which the applicant intends to rely (which must be stated with adequate particularity); and
(e) the legal grounds for the relief sought.
2.3 The applicant must file evidence in support of the application at the time the application is issued. The evidence in support and any subsequent evidence filed should exhibit all the documents relied on (so that any further disclosure can be limited as far as possible) but should not exhibit correspondence between the parties or the parties’ solicitors save where it is relevant to the issues in the application.
2.4 The application should be no longer than 15 pages of A4 with a 12-point font and 1.5-minimum spacing between lines.
2.5 On issue, the court will endorse the application with a date for the directions hearing which will be no more than 45 days from the date of issue with a time estimate of 30 minutes.
(1) In the event that the respondent objects, the respondent must file and serve brief reasons for such objection no later than 14 working days before the directions hearing.
(2) The applicant may file and serve a reply to the respondent’s objection no later than 7 working days before the directions hearing.
(3) The objection and any reply should be no longer than two sides of A4 paper with a 12-point font and 1.5-minimum spacing between lines (including the heading of the action as it appears on the application).
(1) At the directions hearing (which should, where possible, be attended by the advocates who will conduct the final hearing), the Bankruptcy Registrar will give binding directions and fix the final hearing, which will be between 3 and 6 months from the date of the directions hearing with an agreed time estimate.
(2) When fixing the date of the final hearing, the Bankruptcy Registrar will generally take into account dates the parties have specified are to be avoided, but may refuse to consider the availability of counsel as a factor in determining the date.
(1) The court will deal with any objection to the use of the IET procedure at the directions hearing, and decide whether or not the application should continue under the IET procedure.
(2) The court may of its own initiative dis-apply the IET procedure if it sees fit.
3.3 Directions will normally be given for—
(a) the service of evidence in answer and reply;
(b) disclosure by lists of documents or by other means (e.g. informal disclosure by inspection of documents held by an insolvency office-holder or reliance on documents exhibited to the evidence);
(c) witnesses to attend for cross-examination, where appropriate;
(d) a date to be fixed for trial/hearing of the substantive application, subject to the provisions of paragraphs 3.1(1) and (2);
(e) the applicant to file and serve a bundle in accordance with the Chancery Guide;
(f) the parties to file and exchange skeleton arguments in accordance with the Chancery Guide.
3.4 A costs cap of £75,000 (excluding VAT and court fees but including conditional fee agreement uplift) will be imposed. The costs cap is not intended to act as a costs target. The provisions for costs management contained in the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 will not apply.
4.1 The trial date may not be vacated by consent, and an adjournment will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.
4.2 At the end of trial or when judgment is handed down, the court may assess costs summarily or order detailed assessment.
5. The court will generally give judgment at trial, provided that sufficient time has been allowed in the time estimate to enable it to do so, or, if judgment has to be reserved, within 4 weeks of the end of the trial.