Lord Justice Briggs, a Court of Appeal judge, was commissioned to review and compile a report on the future of the civil Court structure. His interim report was published on 12 January 2016 and includes many quite controversial aspects which could potentially have a big effect on anybody seeking to litigate in the future.
A rather worrying recommendation within the report is that, in order to reduce the workload on the Court of Appeal, the threshold for permission to appeal should be raised. Other recommendations include more routine work being undertaken by case officers under the supervision of judges rather than by judges themselves. However, by far the most eye catching of the recommendations in the report is that an online Court should be created for all claims up to the value of £25,000.
The reasoning behind this proposal is that an online Court would allow people to access justice without the need to incur the cost of instructing a lawyer though the proposal does not appear to account for the fact that the legal complexity of any dispute is rarely linked to its value.
It will be interesting to see which, if any, of these proposals is implemented in the near to medium future and whether they will apply to all areas of law, including Intellectual Property. Currently Intellectual Property disputes are heard in either the High Court or, if the value of the claim is less than £500,000, the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC). Within IPEC there is then a 'Small Claims' track for cases that are valued at less than £10,000. The IPEC system currently works well and provides access to justice at a proportionate cost.
Intellectual Property is a very complex area of law and the outcome of any disputes around Intellectual Property can often be vital to the future of a business. This coupled with the unlawful threat provisions, whereby a party can be sued for making groundless accusations of infringement in certain areas of intellectual property, mean that we would never recommend commencing an intellectual property action without taking advice from a suitably qualified solicitor.
If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel and Co. on 0191 281 4000 or at firstname.lastname@example.org: Civil Procedure, Legal News, News