April Fool

By | 3rd April 2013

April 1st has come and gone once more.

This year All Fools’ Day fell on Easter Monday and as such was not a working day for most. Nonetheless, unless you have inhabited a different planet from others for much of the past six months you will know that the new CPR rules about disclosure, costs management and budgeting came into force on that, hopefully not inauspiciously named, day.

Back in April 2010 I wrote a piece called April Fowl. Then I was more concerned with the origins of the idea of April Fool but now the new rules are in force I am concerned about the dog’s breakfast rather than the fish which people used to stick on their backs on April 1st (which is why the French call April Fool a poisson d’avril.)

The new rules have been introduced in a piecemeal fashion. My hope is that they have been sufficiently well trailed, for example, by pilot schemes in the Mercantile Courts and the TCC, that their adoption will proceed smoothly. My fear is that we will face satellite litigation before the intent and meaning of the rules are accepted by all. At least we have two Court of Appeal judges designated to deal with the appeals which such litigation is bound to throw up.

We will have to wait and see, but whatever the outcome over the next few months, I happen to believe that the new rules are the start of something good even if they might have been introduced in a more professional way.

We should also be in no doubt that the judiciary intend to make the rules work from the outset. The March 22nd speech by the Master of the Rolls to the District Judges’ Annual Seminar 2013 makes it clear that the judges will not tolerate a lax approach to the implementation of the rules. The overriding objective now contains a specific reference to proportionate cost and anyone who is foolish enough to think that they can deal with disclosure in a pre April 2013 manner, should receive a pretty unsympathetic hearing on an application to the court.

Talking of fools (we were, weren’t we?) you may have missed a story in the New York Times which must have made the participants feel particularly foolish? In an article entitled In Pursuit of McAfee, Media are Part of Story, the paper reported the arrest of fugitive John McAfee as a result of an inadvertent revelation of his whereabouts. Journalists working for VICE magazine posted a dispatch with the “smirking headline, “We Are With John McAfee Right Now, Suckers.”

An alert reader noticed that information about the fugitive’s location was embedded in the photo they published alongside the article and told the world via Twitter. Suddenly McAfee’s whereabouts were no longer a secret and shortly afterwards he was arrested!

Not an April Fool! It really happened!