Court supervision of cases

The Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 1999 (UCPR) are designed to make civil matters move quickly and efficiently through the court system.

In addition to the UCPR, the Supreme Court has developed two systems that allow for judges to take on a more “hands on” approach to particular cases. These procedures are not available in the District or Magistrates Courts.

This factsheet explains these two systems:

  • Caseflow Management; and the
  • Supervised Case List.

Caseflow Management

The Supreme Court’s Practice Direction on Caseflow Management (PD 17/2012) sets out the Caseflow Management procedures. The Court has also produced a Plain English guide to this Practice Direction.

  • The Supreme Court designates a Caseflow Judge to deal with matters that are on the caseflow management list (paragraph 4.2).
  • Caseflow Review hearings are held on the last Friday of each month that the court sits (paragraph 4.3).
  • The Caseflow Management system relies on email correspondence between the parties and the Registry, and if you receive an Intervention Notice, you are required to give the Court and other party an email address (paragraph 5.2).
  • The Court has decided that if the parties are appropriately progressing their case, they should be ready for trial 180 days after a Notice of Intention to Defend is filed.
  • If a Request for Trial Date has not been filed by this date the parties will receive a “Caseflow Intervention Notice.”
  • If you are the plaintiff it is important that you respond to the Intervention Notice within 28 days, otherwise your matter might be “deemed resolved” (paragraph 5.1).
  • This means that the matter is placed in abeyance, and that the plaintiff will need to seek the leave of the Court to take a step in the proceeding (paragraph 3.3).

You’ve received a Caseflow Intervention Notice – what do you do?

An Intervention Notice basically means that the Court requires the parties to either file a request for trial date, inform the Court if for some reason the matter has been resolved, or explain why the matter is not yet ready for trial and propose a plan to get the matter ready for trial.

If you don’t respond to the Notice, then the Court may list the matter for hearing, and may deem the matter resolved if the parties do not attend (paragraph 5.4).

Think about what steps are needed to progress the matter: are your pleadings in order? Has disclosure been completed? Are any experts reports needed? Have you considered mediation of the case?

You should approach the other side with a proposed order. Paragraph 6.1 of the Practice Direction has a list of the relevant steps that you should consider with the other side.

These include:

  • applying for leave, or giving notice of your intention to take a step in the proceeding;
  • applying to transfer the proceedings to the District or Magistrates Court;
  • amending the pleadings;
  • disclosure;
  • bringing any interlocutory applications;
  • providing for any alternative dispute resolution;
  • any orders for expert evidence;
  • any other directions necessary for the resolution of the dispute; and
  • the filing of a Request for Trial Date or a Discontinuance by a particular date (that should be a day the Court hears Caseflow Review Hearings).

You might also receive a proposed order from the other side.

  • If you can agree with the other side, the proposed orders are emailed to the Associate of the Caseflow Judge, who will then consider the order.
  • If the parties cannot agree then the matter will be listed for hearing before the Caseflow Judge who will make orders.

Once an order is made, you should ensure that you comply with that order.

If you do not comply with a step set out in a Caseflow order then your matter can be deemed resolved.

If you are the plaintiff and you believe that you will be unlikely to comply with the date for taking a step, which if it is not taken will result in the matter being deemed resolved, you should write to the other side setting out:

  1. The fact that you are unlikely to be able to comply with the date under a Caseflow order;
  2. The amendments that you propose to be made to the Caseflow order; and
  3. Propose that the parties contact the relevant Associate and Caseflow Manager, to notify them of these issues, so that the parties are not put to the additional costs of having to re-activate a matter.

Next, you should email the Associate to the Caseflow Judge and the Caseflow Manager by 12 noon on the day before the matter will otherwise be deemed resolved, giving an explanation of what has happened. If you have reached agreement with the other party, you should provide a draft consent order. If you have not reached agreement, you should ask that the matter be listed at the next Caseflow Review hearing (paragraph 6.5).

If you want to progress a matter that has become deemed resolved you need to apply to the Court for the proceeding to be reactivated. You will need to explain to the Court how the proceeding became deemed resolved and outline how you intend to progress the case (paragraph 8).

Supervised Case List

The Supervised Case List exists for cases that are likely to involve a considerable use of court resources either because the trial is likely to take more than five days, or because of the issues involved in the case, it is going to be particularly complicated.

Practice Direction 11 of 2012 sets out the procedures that apply to cases on the Supervised Case List.

Cases on the List are managed with a view to reducing the case down to the key issues.

It involves regular review hearings before a designated Judge, who sets directions for the progress of the matter.

There are three ways that a case can be placed on the List.

  1. A judge of the Supreme Court can refer the matter to the List, either as a result of an application by one of the parties, or by decision of the judge.
  2. A party can apply to the Supervised Case List manager for the matter to be placed on the List.
  3. The Supervised Case List Manager can place a matter on the List.

If an application to have a matter placed on the Supervised Case List is brought, you will receive a Supervised Case List Questionnaire, which is designed to give the Supervising Judge more information about the issues in the case.

The Court will then set regular review hearings at which directions will be given about the progress of the matter.

In these review hearings the Court can consider a broad range of matters. These are set out in paragraphs 16 – 24 of the Practice Direction. These include:

  • whether all the parties required to decide the case are part of the case;
  • the pleadings filed;
  • disclosure;
  • alternative dispute resolution;
  • whether any issues can be determined prior to the trial of the substantive case;
  • expert evidence;
  • trial arrangements (including trial plans, ways of giving evidence, and proof of documents); and
  • the dates for any further reviews.

Commercial List

Complex commercial matters that involve disputes arising out of trade and commerce and that are likely to take more than ten days at trial can be placed on the Supreme or District Court’s Commercial List.

For more information about the Commercial List see: