NEW PRACTICE DIRECTION DEALING WITH PROCEDURE RELATING TO POSSESSION PROCEEDINGS FOLLOWING LIFTING OF THE STAY

A new Practice Direction comes into force on the 23rd August 2020. Practice Direction 55C.    This deals with the procedure to be adopted in relation to those actions that have been stayed by reason of the Practice Direction and rules staying possession proceedings.  It provides that proceedings cannot be “unstayed” until one of the parties serves a “reactivation notice”.  There are detailed provisions as to what must happen once the reactivation notice is served and the procedures the court must follow.

 

PRACTICE DIRECTION 55C – CORONAVIRUS: TEMPORARY PROVISION IN
RELATION TO POSSESSION PROCEEDINGS

1) After Practice Direction 55B insert Practice Direction 55C as set out in the
Schedule to this Update.

SCHEDULE
PRACTICE DIRECTION 55C – CORONAVIRUS: TEMPORARY PROVISION IN
RELATION TO POSSESSION PROCEEDINGS

This practice direction supplements CPR Part 55

CONTENTS OF THIS PRACTICE DIRECTION

General – introductory and interpretation Paragraph 1.1
No listing, relisting or referral in stayed claims without Paragraph 2.1
reactivation notice
Notice of listed or relisted hearings in stayed claims Paragraph 3.1
All claims where no hearing listed Paragraph 4.1
Stayed claims where case management directions made Paragraph 5.1
New claims and stayed claims brought on or after Paragraph 6.1
3 August 2020 – demonstrating compliance with relevant
Pre-Action Protocol and providing information as to effect of pandemic

General – introductory and interpretation

1.1 This practice direction is made under rule 55.A1 and provides for temporary
modification of Part 55 during the period beginning with 23 August 2020 (the end of
the stay imposed by rule 55.29) and ending on 28 March 2021 (“the interim period”).
1.2 During the interim period, Part 55 has effect subject to this practice direction.
1.3 In this practice direction—
“stayed claim” means a claim which was brought on or before 22 August 2020
(including an appeal from a decision in such a claim) and which is accordingly
subject to the stay imposed by rule 55.29;
“new claim” means a claim brought after 22 August 2020.

1.4 Paragraphs 2.1 to 3.1 and 5.1 to 5.4 of this practice direction apply only to
stayed claims (and attention is drawn to paragraph 2.2, which provides that
paragraph 2.1 – and therefore the requirement for a reactivation notice – does not
apply to stayed claims brought on or after 3 August 2020 or stayed claims in which a
final possession order has been made).
1.5 Paragraph 4.1 of this practice direction applies to all claims whenever
brought.
1.6 Paragraph 6.1 of this practice direction applies to all claims, including stayed
claims, brought on or after 3 August 2020.
1.7 Paragraph 6.2 of this practice direction applies only to new claims to which
Section II of Part 55 applies.

No listing, relisting, hearing or referral in stayed claims without reactivation
notice

2.1 Subject to paragraph 2.2, and unless the court directs otherwise, no stayed
claim is to be—
(a) listed;
(b) relisted;
(c) heard; or
(d) referred to a judge under rule 55.15,
until one of the parties files and serves a written notice (a “reactivation notice”)
confirming that they wish the case to be listed, relisted, heard or referred.
2.2 Paragraph 2.1 does not apply to a stayed claim—
(a) which was brought on or after 3 August 2020; or
(b) in which a final order for possession has been made.
2.3 A reactivation notice must—
(a) confirm that the party filing and serving it wishes the case to be listed,
relisted, heard or referred; and

(b) except in proceedings relating to an appeal, set out what knowledge that
party has as to the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic on the Defendant and
their dependants.
2.4 Except in proceedings relating to an appeal, where a reactivation notice is
filed and served by the Claimant and the claim is based on arrears of rent, the
Claimant must provide with the notice an updated rent account for the previous two
years.
2.5 Unless the court orders otherwise, any trial date set prior to 27 March 2020
(the date on which Practice Direction 51Z came into force) shall be vacated and the
case stayed unless a party complies with the provisions of paragraphs 2.1, 2.3, 2.4
and 5.1 not less than 42 days prior to the hearing date.
2.6 If by 4.00 p.m. on 29 January 2021 no reactivation notice has been filed and
served in relation to a stayed claim to which paragraph 2.1 applies, that claim will be
automatically stayed.
2.7 A stay under paragraph 2.5 or 2.6 is not a sanction for breach; and an
application to lift the stay is accordingly not an application for relief from sanctions
under rule 3.9.

Notice of listed or relisted hearings in stayed claims

3.1 The court must, unless it directs otherwise, give at least 21 days’ notice to the
parties of any hearing listed or relisted in response to a reactivation notice.
All claims where no hearing listed
4.1 During the interim period, rule 55.5 applies with the following modifications—
(a) paragraph (1) is modified to read—
“(1) Subject to paragraph (1A), the court will fix a date for the hearing
when or after it issues the claim form.”; and
(b) paragraph (3)(b) (standard period between issue and hearing of eight
weeks) does not apply.

Stayed claims where case management directions made

5.1 In relation to a stayed claim to which paragraph 2.1 applies and in which case
management directions were made before 23 August 2020, a party filing and serving
a reactivation notice must file and serve with it—
(a) a copy of the last directions order together with new dates for compliance
with the directions taking account of the stay before 23 August 2020; and
(b) either—
(i) a draft order setting out additional or alternative directions
(including proposing a new hearing date) which are required; or
(ii) a statement in writing that no new directions are required and that
an existing hearing date can be met; and
(c) a statement in writing whether the case is suitable for hearing by video or
audio link.
5.2 If the other parties do not agree with any of the matters advanced under
paragraph 5.1(a), (b) and (c), they must file and serve a response within 14 days of
service of the reactivation notice.
5.3 If no party has complied with paragraph 5.1 by 4.00 p.m. on 29 January 2021,
the claim will be automatically stayed.
5.4 A stay under paragraph 5.3 is not a sanction for breach; and an application to
lift the stay is accordingly not an application for relief from sanctions under rule 3.9.
New claims and stayed claims brought on or after 3 August 2020 –
demonstrating compliance with relevant Pre-Action Protocol and providing
information as to effect of pandemic
6.1 In any claim (whether a new claim or a stayed claim) brought on or after 3
August 2020, the Claimant must—
(a) bring to the hearing two copies of a notice—
(i) in a claim to which the Pre-Action Protocol for Possession Claims
by Social Landlords is applicable, confirming that the Claimant has
6
complied with that Pre-Action Protocol and detailing how the Claimant
has done so; and
(ii) in all claims, setting out what knowledge that party has as to the
effect of the Coronavirus pandemic on the Defendant and their
dependants; and
(b) serve on the Defendant not less than 14 days prior to the hearing the
notices referred to in sub-paragraph (a) setting out what knowledge that party
has as to the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic on the Defendant and their
dependants.
6.2 In any claim (whether a new claim or a stayed claim) brought on or after 3
August 2020 to which Section II of Part 55 applies the Claimant must file with the
claim form for service with it a notice setting out what knowledge that party has as to
the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic on the Defendant and their dependants.
(For a claim to which the Pre-Action Protocol for Possession Claims based on
Mortgage or Home Purchase Plan Arrears in Respect of Residential Property is
applicable, paragraph 5.5 of Practice Direction 55A requires the Claimant to bring to
the hearing two completed copies of Form N123 (the mortgage pre-action protocol
checklist).)