Reactivation of possession claims on the expiry of the stay

Reactivation of possession claims on the expiry of the stay

The Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 4) (Coronavirus) Rules 2020 amend the Civil Procedure Rules to add a new Practice Direction.  Practice Direction 55C will come into force on 23 August 2020. 

Practice Direction 55C details what measures will be implemented when the stay of possession proceedings expires on 23 August 2020.  This Practice Direction will apply during the “interim period” (23 August 2020 to 28 March 2021).

No stayed claim is to be listed, relisted, heard or referred

No stayed claim is to be listed, relisted, heard or referred to a judge until one of the parties files and serves a written notice (a “reactivation notice”).  

Please note that this does not apply to a stayed claim which was brought on or after 3 August 2020; or in which a final order possession has been made.

Reactivation notice

The reactivation notice must:

  1. Confirm that the party filing and serving it wishes the case to be listed, relisted, heard or referred; and 
  2. 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.

Where the claim is based on arrears of rent, the Claimant must provide with the reactivation notice an updated rent account for the previous two years.

If by 4.00 p.m. on 29 January 2021 no reactivation notice has been filed and served in relation to a stayed claim, that claim will be automatically stayed.  However, this further stay is not a sanction for breach, so any subsequent application to lift the stay does not have to meet the Civil Procedure Rules conditions for relief from sanctions.

Stayed claim with case management directions that were made before 23 August 

In relation to a stayed claim which case management directions were made before 23 August 2020, a party filing and serving a reactivation notice must file and serve with it— 

  1. 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 
  2. either— 
  1. a draft order setting out additional or alternative directions (including proposing a new hearing date) which are required; or
  2. a statement in writing that no new directions are required and that an existing hearing date can be met; and 
  3. a statement in writing whether the case is suitable for hearing by video or audio link. 

If the other parties do not agree with any of the matters advanced they must file and serve a response within 14 days of service of the reactivation notice.  

If no party has complied with the above by 4.00 p.m. on 29 January 2021, the claim will be automatically stayed.  Again, this further stay is not a sanction for breach.

Trial dates

Any trial date set prior to the stay coming into force on 27 March 2020 is vacated and the case stayed unless a reactivation notice, updated rent account and updated draft directions are filed not less than 42 days prior to the hearing date. 

Notice of listed or relisted hearings in stayed claims 

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

During the interim period, the court will fix a date for the hearing when or after it issues the claim form.  In addition, the standard period between issue and hearing of eight weeks does not apply.

New claims and stayed claims brought on or after 3 August 2020 

In any claim (whether a new claim or a stayed claim) brought on or after 3 August 2020, the Claimant must— 

  1. Bring to the hearing two copies of a notice—
  1. in a claim to which the Pre-Action Protocol for Possession Claims by Social Landlords is applicable, confirming that the Claimant has complied with that Pre-Action Protocol and detailing how the Claimant has done so; and 
  2. 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 
  1. 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. 

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 (i.e. Accelerated Possession Claims) 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. 

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