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Published 9 November 2022
Two fundamental changes are coming to County Court Procedures in Northern Ireland on the 6th January 2023. Order 12A which covers Summary Judgement and Order 25A which covers Orders for Provisional Damages for Personal Injuries.
Under this amendment a plaintiff will be able to apply for summary judgment against a defendant in motor, property and personal injury claims, despite a defendant entering a Notice of Intention to Defend. The provision differs from Part 24 of the English Procedural Rules. Firstly, in Northern Ireland the right to apply has not been extended to the defendant and secondly, the grounds are different. In Northern Ireland the test will be “that the defendant has no defence to a claim included in the civil bill.” Part 24 provides that the test is whether it can be shown, “the defendant has no real prospect of successfully defending the claim.”
As the County Court Rules do not require a plaintiff to have particularised his claim to the extent required under the English Procedural Rules it remains to be seen how this new provision will be interpreted by the Court.
The amendment in relation to Provisional Damages is ground-breaking for Northern Ireland as it now means that the County Court Rules will contain express provision for the award of provisional damages. This will be particular good news for defendants of pleural plaque claims which are compensable in Northern Ireland.
The lack of such an express provision has seen pleural plaque claims pursued in the High Court even though the reported decision of McCauley v Harland and Wolff PLC and Anor (2015) clearly established the great majority fall within the monetary jurisdiction of the County Court. There is a significant advantage to this amendment as it will deliver more certainty around costs.
Again, the Northern Ireland Rules are not the same as in England and Wales under Practice Direction 41. The County Court Rules do not require a plaintiff to have particularised his claim to the extent required under the English procedural rules.
It is vital that we continue to keep an eye on how these amendments will affect litigation in Northern Ireland, in particular disease claims.
For any further information or advice on these issues please contact Sean McGahan or Niall McCullough.
+44 (0) 289 041 2820
+44 (0) 289 041 2839