Significant revisions have been made to Civil Procedure Rule (CPR) 53 from today (1 October 2019).

Previously governing only defamation claims, the new CPR 53 counterpart will formally recognise the Queen’s Bench Division Media and Communications (M&C) List. 

In practice, this means that any High Court claim which relates to defamation, the misuse of private information, data protection or harassment by publication must now be brought within this list and issued at the Royal Courts of Justice.

The changes have been met with positive approval by practitioners, who regarded the previous guidance too outdated to meet the demands of modern media and communications litigation. Positive changes include:

  • a new, more clear pre-action protocol for letters before action in different types of media and communications claims
  • the prospect of judges of the Chancery Division becoming Media and Communications List specialists.

However, critics have pointed out the relatively few number of existing judges that specialise in these types of claims, which could give rise to a potential backlog in the system. 

Moreover, creating one master list that encompasses all media and communication claims runs the risk that there will be oversight of the distinctiveness of each category of claim, where the causes of action are unlikely to be linked.

Advocates for the change highlight the benefits of the judicial system progressing in line with the modern digital age, though it remains to be seen whether an already burdened system can cope with the increasing incidence of these types of claim.

Laura Wallace (Trainee Solicitor) and John Tippett-Cooper (Associate and Head of CSR)