10 September 2005

Computer Supply Litigation: New TCC Guide takes effect from 5 Oct

The TCC ("Technology and Construction Court") has published a new Court Guide to supplement CPR Part 60 and PD60 from 5 Oct 2005. The significance of this Guide is that the TCC is the tribunal in which most computer supply disputes are heard.

Originally known as the Official Referee's Court, it was something of a Cindarella for many years. Even though very complicated high value cases often came before it, the judges of that court were circuit rather than High Court judges and they were addressed even in the Royal Courts of Justice as "Your Honour" and not "My Lord". Its status has been elevated by three important developments. The first was the Practice Direction of 9 October 1998 which changed its name and established it as a specialist court within the Queen's Bench Division under the supervision of a High Court Judge. Judges of the TCC were henceforth to be addressed as "My Lord" wherever they sat. The second major development was devolution of TCC jurisdiction to the county courts which occurred on 26 April 1999 with the implementation of the Civil Procedure Rules. The third and perhaps most important development was the announcement by the Lord Chief Justice on 5 July 2005 of the extension of the High Court judges' involvement in the Court and its sittings. There will now be a full time High Court judge backed up by other judges of the Queen's Bench Division.

The TCC hears claims that involve issues or questions which are technically complex or those in which a trial by a TCC judge is otherwise desirable. That includes "claims relating to the design, supply and installation of computers, computer software and related network systems" as well as building and engineering disputes. There was case management in the TCC long before the CPR came into force. As in the Patents and Commercial Court, cases have always been managed by judges. Masters and district judges have no role in its proceedings.

Many recent judgments of the TCC are reported on the British and Irish Legal Information Institute.

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