The Courts may be limited in their ability to progress possession claims following the general stay introduced by Practice Direction 51Z which took effect on 27 March 2020.
However, after some confusion, the Practice Direction has been updated to clarify the impact of the general stay on both new and existing matters and suggests that, in certain situations, some progress can be made.
- Issuing New Claims – The general stay does not prevent a claim for possession from being issued at court. Simply, upon issue, the claim will be immediately stayed pursuant to the general stay.
- Progressing Existing Claims – Parties are permitted to make applications for case management directions where they are agreed by the parties. Any such agreed directions orders can be considered on the papers and will not involve attendance at court.
- Claims against trespassers and making of interim possession orders – The stay does not apply to a claim against trespassers to which rule 55.6 applies or to the making of interim possession orders under Section III of CPR Pt 55, hearings required by rule 55.25(4), and applications under rule 55.28(1).
Up until now, the Courts have been inconsistent in their approach regarding the issue of new possession claims and case management progression in existing claims. The recent guidance clarifies the position and should assist in ensuring that possession proceedings resume effectively once the general stay has expired.