The Disclosure Pilot Scheme in the Business and Property Courts came into effect at the start of this year.  Since then, the court has encouraged parties to actively engage with the new rules on disclosure (which are mandatory, save for limited exceptions).  The latest message from the court is that the parties to a dispute should be making use of the new Disclosure Guidance Hearings. 

The recent decision, Vannin Capital PCC v RBOS Shareholders Action Group Ltd and others [2019] EWHC 1617 (Ch), encourages the use of these new Disclosure Guidance Hearings.  These hearings are a new concept under the Disclosure Pilot Scheme.  They are short hearings (max 30 minutes) intended to give the parties guidance where they can't reach an agreement regarding the disclosure process.  The hearing can take place before or after the Case Management Conference (where the scope of disclosure is often debated by the parties). 

The court criticised the parties in Vannin for not making use of a Disclosure Guidance Hearing and instead making applications about disclosure which were dealt with at the Case Management Conference.  The court considered that a Disclosure Guidance Hearing might have saved time and costs for the parties in this case. 

Going forward - it will be interesting to see if, parties that do not make use of a Disclosure Guidance Hearing, where the court considers that they should have, will face some sort of sanction imposed by the court. 

For now - a reminder that parties should consider whether a Disclosure Guidance Hearing might be appropriate.