New Victorian Supreme Court Rules have just been unveiled, ready to come into operation on 23 November 2015. (They are the Supreme Court (General Civil Procedure) Rules 2015 – S.R. No. 103/2015).
We have had the last Rules since 1 January 2006 (with amendments along the way). The ones before that were dated 1996, so it seems that every ten or twenty years the winds of change blow hard enough that a new edition of the Rules.
From my review of the new Rules, compared to the current version of the Rules, very little has changed*.
Rule numbers – have pretty much stayed the same. Which is a relief, as after referring enough times over the years to (say) an Order 29.08 discovery application, an order 21 default judgment application or an Order 13 pleading point it is nice not to have to learn new numbers to match old concepts. And also time and cost effective. There a couple of minor tidying up changes: for example, R13.12(3) and (4) have now become r13.12(2) and (3) respectively, but the wording is the same.
The more recent amendments to the current Rules are all included:
- RedCrest –no changes of substance have been made to the rules dealing with filing documents electronically via RedCrest in this recent edition of the Rules. Order 28A still deals with electronic filing of documents in RedCrest, with other references scattered through the Rules where relevant to particular types of documents.
- Appeals and applications to the Court of Appeal: the new process introduced last year and set out in Order 64 appears unchanged.
- Summary judgment – again the changes made recently remain in the new Rules. (Those who have not reviewed Order 22 recently should familiarise themselves with the new wording brought in as a result of S61 of the Civil Procedure Act 2010, including the summary judgment procedure now available to defendants, and against third parties joined to proceedings).
- Certification requirements for proceedings (introduced by the Civil Procedure Act 2010) remain the same: (r4.09)
- Service of documents (where personal service is not required) is still dealt with in Rule 6.07 and expressly includes mention of service by solicitors on each other by leaving documents in “an exchange box in a document exchange” and by “telephone transmission of a facsimile of a document”, but not by email. However, helpfully (given the amount of emailing now going on), there is now a Note added after Rule 6.07(1) which states:
The Electronic Transactions (Victoria) Act 2000 applies to enable a document to be served electronically, including facsimile transmission and email, in accordance with that Act.”
This will no doubt assist those lawyers who have not otherwise familiarised themselves with the Electronic Transactions Act, giving them comfort in serving Supreme Court documents by email.
- There is now a definition of “sheriff” (s 1. 13).
- A “solicitor” is no longer defined (s 1.13). Previously the Rules had defined solicitors as meaning “an Australian lawyer as defined in the Legal Profession Act 2004, other than a barrister as defined in that Act, and includes an incorporated legal practice as defined in that Act”. Presumably that definition was considered unnecessary.
- Applications to use audio visual link or audio links – Order 41A is unchanged but has a new heading. It is now called “Application to use audio visual link or audio link” rather than “Application under Section 42(E) of the Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1958”, which may make it easier for practitioners to locate the relevant provisions.
*Disclaimer: I have not done a word by word analysis of changes to the Rules. I have not reviewed the Forms which follow the Rules for changes. The points above are those which I have noted, and may help people wanting a quick summary of relevant changes.
There is never any substitute for actually reading relevant legislation – and the same of course goes for those using the Rules of the Supreme Court (both old and new).