Hot on the heels of guidance agreed by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and the Forum of Insurance Lawyers and a protocol agreed between the Association of British Insurers and Thompsons Solicitors, aimed at opposing parties acting more cooperatively during this period of change and uncertainty, the Ministry of Justice has confirmed an amendment to the Civil Procedure Rules.
The new Practice Direction 51ZA, Extension of Time Limits and Clarification of PD 51Y, became effective on 2 April 2020 and primarily concerns the extension of time limits during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The main change is that parties may now agree extensions to deadlines of up to 56 days without formally notifying the court (an increase from the previous 28 days), so long as no hearing date is put at risk.
Any extension of more than 56 days will still need to be agreed by the Court, however the Court is now required to take into account the impact of the pandemic in considering such applications, as well as in respect of applications for adjournment or relief from sanctions.
The practice direction also provides that applications for extensions of longer than 56 days will be considered by the Court on the papers. Any order made following the Court’s consideration of the application on the papers can be reconsidered at a hearing on further application.
The Practice Direction will cease to have effect on 30th October 2020.