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  • Obligations imposed by the overriding purpose of the Civil Procedure Act 2005, NSW have teeth and must be taken seriously – they are not ‘just pious exhortation to be acknowledged and then ignored’
  • Failure to comply with the overriding purpose may generate adverse results and/or costs orders against parties and their lawyers
  • Cases such as Tugrul v Tarrrants Financial Consultants Pty Limited [No 5] [2014] provide further guidance about how it will be applied.

The overriding purpose of the Civil Procedure Act 2005, NSW (the CPA) is set out in section 56. It mandates “the just, quick and cheap resolution of the real issues in the proceedings”.

The court must seek to give effect to the overriding purpose whenever it exercises any power under the CPA or the rules.

Section 59 works hand in hand with s 56 and provides that the practice and procedure of the court should be implemented with the object of eliminating delay between the commencement of proceedings and their final determination where appropriate.

Every litigator will be familiar with the words of the overriding purpose; and they are frequently bandied about by parties to both support and resist applications.

What these broadly worded sections mean, and how the court will apply them, has been an emerging area of the law for some time.

Some recent decisions have highlighted the frustration of the court in dealing with matters, (particularly interlocutory applications) in which a party, or their lawyers, appear to ignore the overriding purpose.

Courts are increasingly willing to enforce parties’ (and parties’ lawyers’) obligations under the overriding purpose by way of adverse results and/or costs orders.

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