THE NEW PRACTICE DIRECTION 2: “THE COURT WILL TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE IMPACT OF THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC”

Looking at paragraph 4 of the Practice Direction today it, in effect, enshrines commonsense.  However there are still steps lawyers should take to protect their clients (and their own) position.

“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.”

DON’T FORGET YOUR BASICALLY LAWYERS SAFEGUARDS: RECORD AND BE READY TO EXPLAIN

This cannot be construed as an automatic “get out of jail” card.

  • Limitation periods are not extended.
  • There is no express rule in relation to service of pleadings by email (and in particular the service of proceedings by email).  If your opponent is proving difficult
  • You will most probably be called upon to explain who the Covid-19 pandemic caused you to need an extension of time, couldn’t comply, require an adjournment or require relief from explanations. Be ready to explain and show what difficulties were put in your way and what steps were taken to overcome them.  The mention of “Covid-19” is not necessarily a magic spell. Relying on coronavirus without an explanation,  may not necessarily find sympathy with the court.