PRACTICE DIRECTION 66 – CROWN PROCEEDINGS
Rule 30.3(2) sets out the circumstances to which the court must have regard when considering whether to make an order under section 40(2), 41(1) or 42(2) of the County Courts Act 1984 (transfer between the High Court and County Court), rule 30.2(1) (transfer between county courts) or rule 30.2(4) (transfer between the Royal Courts of Justice and the district registries).
From time to time the Attorney General will publish a note concerning the organisation of the Government Legal Service and matters relevant to the venue of Crown proceedings, for the assistance of practitioners and judges. When considering questions of venue under rule 30.3(2), the court should have regard to the Attorney General's note in addition to all the other circumstances of the case.
Service of Documents
In civil proceedings by or against the Crown, documents required to be served on the Crown must be served in accordance with rule 6.10 or 6.23(7).
(The list published under section 17 of the Crown Proceedings Act 1947 of the solicitors acting for the different government departments on whom service is to be effected, and of their addresses is annexed to this Practice Direction).
ANNEX 1Disputes as to Venue – Factors to be taken into Consideration
Attorney General’s Note to Supplement the Practice Direction
Rule 30.3(2)(h) provides that in cases involving civil proceedings by or against the Crown, when considering whether to order a transfer of those proceedings, the court must have regard to, “the location of the relevant government department or officers of the Crown and, where appropriate, any relevant public interest that the matter should be tried in London.”
Practice Direction 66, paragraph 1.2, provides that the Attorney General will publish a note concerning the organisation of the Government Legal Service and matters relevant to the venue of Crown proceedings, for the assistance of practitioners and judges. When considering questions of venue under rule 30.3(2), the court should have regard to the Attorney General’s note in addition to all the other circumstances of the case.
This note sets out the further factors to be taken into consideration where there is a dispute as to venue between a claimant and a government department. Where there is such a dispute, it should be dealt with at a case management conference.
Organisation of the Government Legal Service
Lawyers in the Government Legal Service (GLS) provide legal advice to the government and represent it in court proceedings. The Government Legal Department, headed by the Treasury Solicitor, conducts this litigation for the majority of government departments, but lawyers in HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have the conduct of litigation for their department. Most government litigation lawyers are based in London. HMRC also has litigation lawyers based in Manchester who deal with judicial reviews and tax litigation. A full list of addresses for service is annexed to Practice Direction 66.
Factors be taken into account generally
While a number of government departments have offices outside London, central government bodies are based in London and the GLS is geared towards processing claims in the Royal Courts of Justice (see above). Where there is a High Court claim, many witnesses as well as lawyers and officials are London-based and there may be a disproportionate cost in transferring them to a venue outside London. That is not to say, bearing in mind the overriding objective, that the Crown would oppose transfer away from the Royal Courts of Justice where it was appropriate, for example in personal injury disputes.
Some cases have important precedent value or are of general importance to the public, which may make them more suitable for being heard in the Royal Courts of Justice.
Special Considerations in relation to HM Revenue and Customs
HMRC has litigation lawyers based in London and Manchester. The lawyers based in London deal with all types of HMRC’s litigation. The lawyers based in Manchester deal with judicial reviews and tax litigation in cases where it makes sense to conduct the litigation outside of London, typically where the claimant’s or appellant’s address is in, or north of, Birmingham.