The Delhi High Court has amended its Rules (Original Side) to bring in features such as ‘Hot-Tubbing’ and ‘Confidentiality Club’ besides various other amendments which will come into effect from November 1.
Hot-Tubbing is a colloquial term for court process of calling expert witnesses to give evidence and to be examined concurrently.This has been incorporated by substituting Rule 6 in Chapter XI of the Rules.
The Rules explain it as a “cooperative endeavour to identify key issues of a dispute and evolve a common resolution for all of them, wherever possible”.
However, where resolution of issues is not possible, a structured discussion allows experts to give their opinions without the constraints of the adversarial process and in a setting which enables them to respond directly to each other. In this manner, the judge is not confined to the opinion of only one expert but has the benefit of multiple experts who are rigorously examined in public.
It says when the parties to a commercial suit wish the rely on hot tubbing method to record the deposition of expert witnesses, the court may adopt the following procedure:
Prior to hearing taking place, the expert witnesses take part in a meeting at a mutually convenient place, where they prepare a joint statement which shall be filed before the court. This joint statement shall consist of agreed statement of facts and disputed issues after which the parties shall file suggested questions to be put to expert witnesses.
A hearing is then conducted on disputed issues.
A new Rule 17 has been added which speaks of 'Confidentiality Club', which is a normal feature in patent litigation in many jurisdictions.
When parties to a commercial suit wish to rely on document/ information that are commercially or otherwise confidential in nature, the court may constitute a Confidentiality Club so as to allow limited access to such documents/ information. In doing so, the court may set up a structure/ protocol, for establishment and functioning of such club, as it may deem appropriate.
In October last year, the Delhi High Court had allowed telecom major Ericsson’s plea for confidentiality club in its legal battle with Xiaomi.
As a protocol for confidentiality club, the Rules provide that the court may allow constitution of a confidentiality club by permitting filing of all confidential information in a sealed cover to be kept in the safe custody of the Registrar General.
Each party shall then nominate not more than three advocates, who are not and have not been in-house lawyers of either party, and not more than two external experts, who shall constitute the confidentiality club and inspect the confidential documents.
On recording of expert evidence, Rule 6 in chapter XI has been substituted for expert witness which says that the court may, either on its own motion, or on any application of any party, permit an expert witness to testify.
In such a case, the court may pass appropriate orders for recording of his testimony (including by hot tubbing technique, etc), manner of recording, document relied upon by the expert and the fee payable to him.
Read Amendment Notification