Top Tips For Inside A Commercial Courtroom

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Top Tips For Inside A Commercial Courtroom

Author: Katherine David

Key Contact: Katherine David

Katherine David recently attended the Radcliffe Chambers Commercial Litigation Conference 2024. As part of that conference, Mr Justice Pepperall and HHJ Marc Dight provided top tips for inside a commercial courtroom.  

Trials 

  1. Skeleton Argument 
  • Include a clear summary, telling the Judge what they need to decide.  
  • Keep it as short as possible, being five pages maximum.  
  • Include sections on where you want the judge to end up, what the scenario is and how to reach the conclusion.  
  • Limit adjectives and adverbs and delete superlatives.  
  • Do not read the skeleton during advocacy.  
  • Do not include a chronology within the skeleton argument.

  1. Chronology  
  • A chronology ought to be capable of agreement and should have no spin, e.g., referring to there being a meeting on a certain date rather than what happened at the meeting.  
  • A procedural chronology is less helpful at trial. Factual chronologies should be used instead.  
  • The chronology needs to be concise and selective.  
  • A dramatis personae can be helpful where there are a dozen witnesses on each side but may not be required if the case is fairly straightforward.  
  • An agreed chronology is helpful.  

  1. Other tips 
  • Be realistic regarding the amount of material for the judge to read. 
  • Be realistic with time estimates, e.g., the length of time required for opening or closing arguments, witness examination, or cross-examination.  
  • Ensure proper preparation and discussions at the CCMC regarding what the trial looks like.  
  • Build in pre-reading time and time to deliver judgment. For example, in a five-day trial, you may have half a day of pre-reading on day one, day six for judgment preparation, and day seven for delivering the judgment.  
  • Consider witness familiarisation training (to let witnesses know the format and how examination and cross-examination work).  

Applications 

  1. Applications 
  • Include an application notice, evidence, and draft order.  
  • If without notice, add a section in the skeleton argument to deal with arguments that could be raised in opposition.  
  • Include cross-references in the skeleton argument to pages in the bundle.  
  • Include copies of the pleadings within the bundle.  

  1. Remote applications  
  • Make sure that the hard copy page numbers match the electronic page numbers (e.g., start the bundle at page 3 after having the first two pages as the contents page).  
  • Include less correspondence and only necessary correspondence.   
  • Etiquette rules apply – dress smartly, no background noise, and no additional parties.  
  • Hearings of 30 to 60 minutes can be conducted effectively, but longer ones are more effective in person.  
  • Check for journalists or anybody who does not have permission to be there.  

If you would like any more information or have any potential issues or disputes surrounding a contract, please get in touch with Acuity Law.  

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