It’s a new legal year, and we have a new Admin Court Guide (eight edition, October 2023, available here).
What are the most important updates in the Admin Court Guide 2023?
The short answer: the top 3
1. Invalid service by email
Paragraph 7.9.3 warns that it has recently been held that, where a party specifies more than one email address for service, this does not comply with CPR 6A PD para. 4.1, so service by email will not be valid: R (Tax Returned Ltd) v Commissioners for His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs  EWHC 2515 (Admin),  and .
Although the Guide does not say so, a sensible next step for a claimant may be to ask the party to nominate just one email address.
2. Applications to attend a hearing remotely
Reflecting the new post-pandemic world, section 14.5 has been added to deal with applications for remote attendance. The default position now is that hearings take place in person with all parties in attendance, unless the Court directs otherwise (14.5.1). If a party wishes to attend remotely, an application must be made using the interim applications procedure (set out at para 13.7 of the Guide) (14.5.2).
3. Failure to file Detailed Grounds
Paragraphs 10.1.5 has been added reflecting R (Dobson) v SS Justice  EWHC 50 (Admin) to make clear that a party who has not filed Detailed Grounds (or said that Summary Grounds are to stand as Detailed Grounds) requires permission to be heard at the substantive hearing. Although the Court is generally assisted by submissions from the defendant and interested party, this should not be regarded as a “late entry pass”. Where a defendant in default is given permission to participate, the Court may nonetheless impose a costs sanction, even in cases where the lateness does not cause identifiable prejudice.
The long answer: further key updates
4. Reminder to claimants to pay fees to avoid strike out
There are multiple new reminders in the 2023 Guide (see eg 1.5.5, 10.1.1) that a claimant must pay a fee on applying for reconsideration at an oral hearing or where the Court grants permission to apply for judicial review. The Guide now repeatedly reminds claimants that failure to obtain a fee remission or pay this fee can result in the claim being struck out.
5. Irrelevant information in witness statements
Reflecting R (Duke of Sussex) v SSHD  EWHC 682 (Admin), paragraph 10.1.6 of the Guide now cautions against irrelevant material in witness statements. Within its power to control evidence under CPR 32.1, the Court has the power to direct that a witness statement or evidence be re-served omitting irrelevant or duplicative material. The Guide emphasises that legal proceedings do not exist in order for parties to put irrelevant matters in the public domain.
6. Over-redacting emails
There is now a warning against over-redacting at paragraph 15.5.3 reflecting FMA v SSHD  EWHC 1579 (Admin), . In particular, text which explains the provenance and context of a document, such as the name of the sender, recipients or copy recipients of a document (even if these are junior officials) may be relevant. Without this information, it may be more difficult to understand the significance of the document. If a party wishes to redact such information from a disclosable document, an application should be made to the Court for permission to do so, explaining the reason for the redaction, where necessary with supporting evidence.
7. Anonymity, non-disclosure and open justice
There is a new section 7.12 which deals with applications for anonymity or non-disclosure. The guiding principle is the principle of open justice (7.12.1). The court does have the power to permit a Claim Form to be issued without the claimant’s name or address (a “withholding order”); to prevent disclosure of the identity of a claimant or other person (a “restricted reporting order”); or prevent or restrict public access to documents on the court file (an “access to court file order”) (7.12.3). However, any derogation from open justice will be exceptional, and must be established as necessary by the party seeking the order on the basis of clear and cogent evidence: R (Marandi) v Westminster Magistrates Court  EWHC 587 (Admin) at . Key principles to be applied are listed at 7.12.5. A list of example orders which may be considered appropriate is at 7.12.9.
8. Requests for further information in JR
Section 7.6 previously covered disclosure applications under CPR 31.12, and has been extended to cover requests for further information under CPR 18.1. Paragraph 7.6.1 and fn 88 now make clear that a party in a JR may make an application for an order that another party provide further information. However, such requests should remain exceptional and the Court will make such an order only when it is necessary to do so in order to resolve the matter fairly and justly.
9. Disputes of fact in JR
The Guide now sets out at paragraph 11.2.3 the principles applicable when a dispute of fact arises, taken from R (F) v Surrey County Council  EWHC 980 (Admin),  4 WLR 45, . This section is well worth reading in full. In summary, the court should first decide if resolution of the dispute of fact is genuinely required. If so, the court will proceed on written evidence. It is not an absolute rule that the court must accept the statement of a witness who is not cross-examined, for example if it is inconsistent with other written evidence. Where the court cannot resolve the dispute, it will proceed on the basis that the fact is not proved, to the detriment of whichever party was required to prove the fact.
10. Increased emphasis on venues outside of London
The Guide reflects the Admin Court’s recent emphasis on using High Court hearing centres outside of London. Reflecting R (Thakor) v SSHD  EWHC 2556 (Admin), the Guide emphasises that neither the importance of the issues, nor the fact that London counsel and/or solicitors are instructed will necessarily be sufficient to justify retaining a claim in London if other factors point in favour of another centre. A claimant who issues in a different region from the one to which they have the closest connection must justify that decision in accordance with the considerations listed in paragraph 7.7.4 of the Guide.
11. Applications for indemnity costs
Paragraph 25.2.5 now sets out the principles the Court will apply when considering an application for Indemnity costs taken from R (PZX) v SSHD  EWHC 2890 (Admin), .
12. Transfer to another court
The Guide now states that where the public law aspects of a claim are no longer in issue, but residual matters such as damages remain, the parties should address their minds to the question whether the remainder of the claim should be transferred to another court: R (ZA (Pakistan)) v SSHD  EWCA Civ 146,  (24.1.2)
If you would like a PDF comparing the full text of the 2023 Guide with its predecessor in track changes, email firstname.lastname@example.org. It was kindly produced by Jonathan Blunden of Sharpe Pritchard, so I can take no credit it, but I can recommend having a copy.
Imogen Proud is a barrister specialising in public law.
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