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School of Law

Disclosure Pilot in the Business and Property Courts

The Disclosure Pilot in the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales commenced on 1 January 2019. The Pilot, which is governed by the provisions of PD 51U, is ‘intended to effect a culture change. The Pilot is not simply a rewrite of CPR Part 31. It operates along different lines driven by reasonableness and proportionality’: UTB LLC v Sheffield United Ltd [2019] EWHC 914 (Ch) [75] (per Sir Geoffrey Vos, Chancellor of the High Court).

Moreover, it is intended to be a ‘living pilot’, whereby feedback and comments received from those who are involved in the Pilot will be closely taken account of by the Disclosure Working Group, and where necessary, amendments to the content of PD 51U may be made as the Pilot progresses.

The Official Monitor of the Pilot is Professor Rachael Mulheron, Professor of Tort Law and Civil Justice, School of Law, Queen Mary University of London.  To date, Professor Mulheron has produced the following Interim Reports to the Disclosure Working Group:

  1. A Study of the CE File and Court Processes (First Interim Report, dated 26 March 2019);
  2. An Empirical Study (Second Interim Report, dated 1 July 2019); and
  3. An Analysis of Questionnaire Feedback from Legal Practitioners (Third Interim Report, dated 25 February 2020).

The Third Interim Report synthesised, collated and analysed the responses to a Questionnaire which was disseminated to the legal marketplace in October 2019. A copy of the Report, and a Note by Professor Mulheron to accompany the publication of the report, are located below. The Questionnaire is also located at the bottom of this page. A large number of responses (71) were received, totalling over 750pp of feedback and submissions from those who are participating ‘at the coalface’ of the Pilot.

The Third Interim Report was presented to Master of the Rolls, Sir Terence Etherton, to the Supervising Judge of the Disclosure Pilot, Flaux LJ, and to the members of the Disclosure Working Group, on 25 February 2020. A summary of the findings was presented by Professor Mulheron to an ALPS conference on 27 February 2020. It is anticipated that several amendments may be made to PD 51U by the Civil Procedure Rules Committee, following that Committee’s examination of drafting changes which have been proposed by the Disclosure Working Group, in light of the findings of the Third Interim Report.