The fact that Mitchell has now been replaced by Denton does not mean that the sanctions issue has gone away. Lord Justice Jackson’s revised Rule 3.9 acquired, as it were, a bad name as a result of the Court of Appeal’s decision in Mitchell, but its drafter’s purpose – to enforce compliance with rules, and to limit the costs wasted through slipped timetables and incompetence – remains a compelling reason for keeping up-to-date with the sanctions regime as it is applied by the courts.
Sanctions for breach of rules apply much more widely than to disclosure. Equally, disclosure covers a much wider topic than the formal requirements of Rule 31 CPR and its Practice Directions. At a simple level, you can’t judge what is proportionate (with the inevitable compromises which that test implies) without an understanding of the punishments for getting it wrong.
The patron saint of sanctions is barrister Gordon Exall of Zenith Chambers in Leeds. His Civil Litigation Brief is the best source there is for timely and succinct summaries of cases and other developments relating to civil procedure, costs, limitation, sanctions and evidence. It is unsurprising that sanctions have dominated so much of it in recent months.
Gordon Exall is giving a talk at Hardwicke Chambers in Lincoln’s Inn on 3 December at 5:30pm along with Sarah Venn of Hardwicke Chambers. The talk is raising money for Crisis at Christmas and all of the £25 entry fee will go to that charity. Drinks and mince pies are promised.