Paragraphs 19 and 20 of PD52C in respect of appeals to the Court of Appeal have been amended w.e.f. 6 April 2015 (see Judiciary Website here). In broad terms it represents an invitation to Respondents to get involved, albeit in a modest way, at an earlier stage. I cannot help but think that this may be at least partially connected to the rise of appeals by litigants in person and the struggles that the Court of Appeal are having in order to make sense of them.
Although I cannot find the source on the Judiciary website the Master of the Rolls is reported to have said:
For many years a feature of the PTA process has been to trouble respondents as little as possible until permission has been given. They have not been encouraged to lodge written submissions at the paper stage and, although they have a right to attend an oral renewal hearing, they have been discouraged from taking an active part unless the court has specifically directed their attendance.
After careful consideration, the judges of the Court of Appeal have come to the view that the disadvantages of the current practice outweigh the advantages and that the overriding need to make the PTA process more efficient and reliable militates in favour of a greater role for respondents at the permission stage. Provision is therefore now being introduced to permit and encourage the filing of respondents’ written statements in response to a permission application. As amended paragraph 19 of the practice direction makes clear, what is looked for is a short (no more than 3-page) statement of reasons why permission should be refused or should be limited to specific issues. The opportunity is also given for respondents to comment on related applications, e.g. for a stay of execution, or on the conditions to which any grant of permission should be subject.
Respondents’ statements are not at this stage being made mandatory and, as set out in amended paragraph 20(1), the costs of such statements will not normally be recoverable. It is recognised that a more fundamental change would give rise to substantial resource and cost implications and would need to be the subject of consultation. But it is hoped that respondents will avail themselves of the opportunity now given to them. This will enable the benefits of such statements to be monitored and assessed by practical trial before any proposal to make them mandatory is taken further.