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As of 26 April 1999, under the new Civil Procedure Rules, the court will find itself in the driving seat when it comes to case management – including protocols, allocation, case managing conferences and pre-trail reviews.In Lord Woolf’s own words: “Responsibility for the control of litigation must move from litigants and their advisers to the court.”Tactical use (or misuse) of procedural rules to advance a client’s case has become a finely-tuned artform and Woolf’s reaction has been radical – from CPR day, the judge will decide how a case will proceed. But there is no need for undue alarm. This has been the norm for years on the continent and in Scotland.This new judicial case management is one of the principal themes of the CPR. The courts are given a vast latitude to do what they think is appropriate to “deal with a case justly” (see ‘overriding objective’, Legal Week, 11 February).They can extend or shorten time limits, require parties and their legal advisers to attend court, stay and strike out proceedings, and, as a catch-all “make an order of [their] own initiative”.Once judges seize the opportunity to direct disputes assigned to them at an early stage in the litigation, litigators will find cases progressing at a pace that may feel uncomfortable, at least initially.To assist the court in keeping a case moving, the following procedures have been introduced:

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