The Master of the Rolls and the Lord Chancellor have signed an Amending Practice Direction, which amends Practice Direction 51Z (PD) in relation to possession proceedings during the Coronavirus pandemic; PD51Z was first issued by way of the 117th Practice Direction Update on 27 March 2020.
The Amending PD is effective immediately ie from 18 April 2020.
The amendments are intended to clarify that:
- the stay which PD 51Z imposes on possession proceedings does not apply to a claim against trespassers to which rule 55.6 applies
- the stay which PD51Z imposes does not apply to applications for, and the making of, interim possession orders under Section III of CPR Pt 55, the making of such an order, hearings required by rule 55.25(4), and applications under rule 55.28(1).
- parties to possession proceedings can make applications for case management directions where they are agreed by the parties. This will facilitate the proper administration of justice, as such agreed orders can be considered on the papers they will not involve party attendance at court. Moreover, they will enable possession proceedings to resume effectively once the 90-day stay has otherwise expired.
- the stay which PD51Z imposes does not preclude the issue of claims, but simply stays claims.
- like the original PD, it is being issued to ensure that the administration of justice including the enforcement of orders, is carried out so as not to endanger public health and in recognition of limited court resources during the pandemic.
- The PD ceases to have effect on 30 October 2020.