In these uncertain times, with many, including legal representatives working from home and the courts operating with limited resources, the judiciary is making it easier for parties to agree or apply for extensions of time.
Civil Procedure Rules on extensions of time
Under rule 2.11 of the Civil Procedure Rules, some court deadlines can be extended by agreement in writing between the parties for an indefinite period, whereas some can never be extended.
Under CPR 3.8, where a party has failed to comply with a rule, practice direction or court order, any sanction for failure to comply imposed by the rule, practice direction or court order has effect unless the party in default applies for and obtains relief from the sanction. Under CPR 3.8 (4) the parties can agree to extend a deadline by a period of up to 28 days provided that it will not put a hearing date at risk. If more time is needed, the party requiring the extension must apply to the Court, either by application or by a consent order agreed with the opponent.
New Practice Direction for extensions of time
Practice Direction 51ZA has been introduced to amend these rules, at least until 30 October 2020.
- Parties can now agree to extend time under CPR 2.11 and CPR 3.8 by 56 days rather than 28 days
- If an extension beyond 56 days is required, permission of the court must be sought
An application for such permission will be considered by the court on the papers. Any order made on the papers must, on application, be reconsidered at a hearing.
In so far as compatible with the proper administration of justice, the Court will take into account the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic when considering applications for the extension of time for compliance with directions, the adjournment of hearings, and applications for relief from sanctions.
It remains the case that parties should substantiate requests for more time or an adjournment or relief and not simply rely on the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, particularly in light of remote working.
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