The Judiciary issued Practice Direction 36 (“PD 36“) on 20 May 2022, which came into effect on 6 June 2022. PD 36 provides timeframes regarding when reserved judgments in High Court should be handed down taking into account the circumstances of the case, including its nature and complexity, and the other commitments of the court, in order to ensure that reserved judgments are handed down as expeditiously as is reasonably practicable.
There are 3 main categories of timeframes in PD 36 – timeframes for cases before the Court of Appeal (“CA“) (covering both civil and criminal appeals), the Court of First Instance (“CFI“) (covering both civil and criminal cases) and the Masters. For example, for most civil cases before the CFI, reserved judgments regarding interlocutory applications will be handed down within 3 months after the conclusion of the hearing; for criminal appeals before the Court of Appeal, reserved judgments regarding oral hearings before a single judge will be handed down within 3 months after the conclusion of the hearing.
PD 36 also specifies that when reserving judgment after an oral hearing, the court must simultaneously fix the actual handing down date of the judgment in accordance with the timeframes set out above; for paper applications or disposals, depending on the case, the court will notify the parties in writing of the actual handing down date once a judge has been assigned to handle the matter or immediately after the close of the parties’ submissions.
PD 36 should therefore provide litigants with a with clearer idea as to the progress of their cases and serve to promote judicial efficiency.