April 19, 2024
Dispute Resolution

Navigating the legal landscape can be a complex and daunting task, especially when it comes to civil litigation. In the UK, the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) serve as a comprehensive framework governing civil proceedings in the courts. Understanding these rules is essential for both legal professionals and individuals involved in civil disputes.

Civil Litigation and Civil Procedure Rules

Civil litigation encompasses legal disputes between individuals, businesses, or organisations, typically involving matters such as contract disputes, property disputes, and more. The process of resolving these disputes through the court system is governed by the CPR and associated practice directions. 

The CPR came into force in 1999 with the aim of simplifying and streamlining civil court procedures. They provide a set of rules and guidelines that regulate the conduct of civil proceedings in the Court of Appeal, High Court and county courts across England and Wales, replacing the Rules of the Supreme Court 1965 and the County Court Rules 1981. 

Parts of the CPR

Civil Procedure Rules are divided into various parts, with each civil procedure rule addressing specific aspects of civil litigation. Some of the key parts of the CPR include:

  • Part 1 – Overriding Objective. This part sets out the fundamental principle that the court must deal with cases justly, ensuring fairness to all parties involved. It emphasises the importance of saving costs, ensuring cases are dealt with expeditiously, and allocating an appropriate share of court resources.
  • Part 2 – Application and Interpretation of the Rules. Part 2 provides guidance on the interpretation and application of the CPR, ensuring consistency and clarity in their implementation.
  • Part 7 – Procedure for Claims. This part outlines the procedure for commencing a claim in the civil courts. It includes the requirements for initiating proceedings, filing court documents, and serving the claim on the defendant. In this process, the claim form plays a crucial role as a document that formally begins the legal proceedings. It must contain essential information about the parties involved, the nature of the claim, and the remedy sought. The claim form is then served on the defendant, marking the official start of the litigation process.
  • Part 26 – Case Management. Part 26 focuses on the court’s case management powers, empowering the court to actively manage cases to ensure they proceed smoothly and efficiently. It includes allocation of claims to the small claims track, fast track, intermediate track or multi-track. 
  • Part 36 – Offers to Settle. Part 36 governs offers to settle made by parties in civil proceedings. It provides incentives for parties to make reasonable settlement offers and outlines the consequences of accepting or rejecting such offers.
  • Part 44 – Costs. This part deals with the issue of costs in civil proceedings. It includes the general rulethat the unsuccessful party will be ordered to pay the costs of the successful party.

These are just a few examples of the many parts that make up the Civil Procedure Rules, each playing a crucial role in shaping the conduct and outcome of civil litigation.

Pre-action Protocols

Pre-action protocols are an integral aspect of the CPR. They serve as guidelines for parties involved in civil disputes before formal court proceedings commence. These protocols outline the steps parties should take to attempt to resolve their disputes outside of court in a constructive and efficient manner. By encouraging early communication, exchange of information, and exploration of potential settlement options, pre-action protocols aim to streamline the litigation process, minimise costs, and promote the early resolution of disputes. Adherence to pre-action protocols is mandatory in most civil cases, and failure to comply can result in adverse costs consequences. Overall, pre-action protocols play a crucial role in fostering a cooperative and proactive approach to dispute resolution, ultimately contributing to the overarching objectives of the CPR to ensure that cases are dealt with justly, expeditiously, and proportionately.

Some of the key pre-action protocols include:

  • Pre-Action Protocol for Personal Injury Claims. This protocol applies to claims for personal injury arising from road traffic accidents, accidents at work, and other types of personal injury claims. It sets out procedures for early communication between parties, exchange of information. It attempts to reach a settlement without the need for court intervention.
  • Pre-Action Protocol for Housing Disrepair Claims. This protocol applies to claims for housing disrepair, where tenants seek to hold landlords accountable for repairs and maintenance issues in rented properties. It outlines procedures for notifying landlords of disrepair, conducting inspections, and attempting to resolve disputes through negotiation or mediation.
  • Pre-Action Protocol for Debt Claims. This protocol applies to claims for unpaid debts, such as loans, credit card debts, or unpaid invoices. It encourages creditors to provide clear and comprehensive information to debtors regarding the debt owed and attempts to resolve disputes through negotiation or alternative dispute resolution methods.
  • Pre-Action Protocol for Professional Negligence. This protocol applies to claims alleging professional negligence, such as claims against solicitors, accountants, or other professionals. It sets out procedures for exchanging information, considering the merits of the claim, and attempting to resolve disputes through negotiation or mediation before court proceedings are initiated.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

‘Alternative Dispute Resolution’ (ADR) offers parties flexible and informal ways to resolve their disputes, such as mediation, arbitration, and negotiation. Although it is voluntary, courts generally encourage it and may penalise parties who unreasonably refuse or fail to engage in ADR in good faith. This emphasises the importance of resolving disputes outside of formal court proceedings. 

The CPR encourages parties to consider ADR as a means of achieving a swift and cost-effective resolution to their disputes, while also alleviating the burden on the court system. By offering parties the opportunity to engage in constructive dialogue and explore mutually acceptable solutions, ADR promotes cooperation, preserves relationships, and often leads to more satisfactory outcomes than traditional litigation. Overall, it empowers parties to take control of the dispute resolution process and find resolutions that meet their needs and interests.

Trial Witness Statements 

Practice Direction 57AC on trial witness statements in the business and property courts became part of the CPR in April 2021 and introduced major changes. It highlights the purpose of a trial witness statement, which is to articulate in writing the evidence that a factual witness would present orally at trial if given the opportunity without a prior statement. It serves to inform the parties and the court of the evidence intended for reliance during trial proceedings, thereby supporting the overarching objective and fostering equality among parties. Additionally, it facilitates efficient use of trial time by enabling a direct transition into cross-examination and encourages pre-trial settlements. 

Key requirements include the necessity for witness statements to contain only factual evidence within the witness’s personal knowledge, reference to relevant documents, adherence to best practice guidelines, verification by a statement of truth, confirmation of compliance by the witness, and endorsement with a certificate of compliance by the legal representative.


Civil Procedure Rules form the backbone of civil litigation in the UK, providing a structured framework for resolving disputes through the court system. By promoting fairness, efficiency, and proportionality, the CPR ensure that cases are handled in a manner that serves the interests of justice and upholds the rule of law. Whether you’re a legal professional or an individual navigating the complexities of civil litigation, understanding and adhering to the CPR is essential for achieving a just and equitable resolution to your case.

At EM Law, we are experts in civil litigation. If you need assistance or would like to speak to us, please reach out to our Sasha Bark Jones directly, or contact us here.