New Civil Procedure Rules in NSW

A new set of procedural rules came into force in New South Wales yesterday, in what is arguably the most far-reaching round of changes to civil court procedure in the State for many years.

The Civil Procedure Act 2005 (NSW), which incorporates the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 2005, will affect all practitioners working in the Supreme, District and Local Courts in NSW. Most civil matters on foot will run under the new Rules, as will matters commenced from yesterday.

The aim of the new rules is to simplify procedures and to get rid of needless differences between the courts. The changes will also pave the way for technology-based court procedures, such as electronic filing of documents.

Many principles enshrined in the old court rules are carried over into the new legislation, but there are a number of changes.

The standardization process means there are a number of particular changes from the various court-specific rules. Time limits, for example, have changed in some instances. And at certain stages of the litigation process - starting proceedings, for example, or discovery and interrogatories, or making offers of compromise - there may be differences.

"It’s not just a matter of new numbering for old rules. The Act marks the beginning of a new approach to managing and resolving civil matters," said the managing director of Thomson Legal and Regulatory Australia, Jackie Rhodes.

The new Act means practitioners will be needing to rely on new civil procedure publications to master the new regime, and Ms Rhodes said Thomson's NSW Civil Practice and Procedure was uniquely placed to assist practitioners to understand the impact of the new rules to their civil litigation practice.

The new publication's General Editors - Justice John Hamilton and Geoff Lindsay SC - were on the UCP Rules committee that produced the rules. Five authors were also members from the UCP working party.

Ms Rhodes said the result was commentary that reviewed and synthesised three decades of principles and case law in the area, explaining the implications of the legislation for civil practice.

"We are making this information available in an easy-to-use publication developed by asking practitioners what they need most to support the litigation process," she added.

16 August, 2005

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