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Escape clause

When can the courts refuse an application for a civil jury trial? Tony Davies reports on a Court of Appeal decision which clarifies the correct approach

11 July 2003

The right to a jury trial in civil claims is preserved by s 69 of the Supreme Court Act 1981 (the 1981 Act) and s 66 of the County Courts Act 1984 (the 1984 Act). It remains a qualified right, and only applies to specified proceedings. The court has to be satisfied there is an issue of fraud against the party making the application for a jury trial or there is a claim in respect of libel, slander, malicious prosecution or false imprisonment. There is a discretion to order a jury trial in other proceedings but not a right to require it.
The party desiring a jury trial has to make an application for one. The application in respect of the specified proceedings in the High Court “must be made no later than such time before trial as may be prescribed” (s 69(2) 1981 Act). The application for any jury trial in the county court must be made “within such time before the trial as may be prescribed” (s 66(2) 1984 Act) (see below).
If the action relates to the specified proce...

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