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Judicial Guidance on enforcing compliance with rules, practice directions and orders post-1 April.
22 April 2013
Court of Appeal
Mr Justice Henderson
If practitioners had forgotten that post-1 April we live in a different world, Mr Justice Henderson sought to remind us. In an application made to extend time for compliance with a direction for disclosure (with the application made before the deadline for compliance), Henderson J expressed the view that it is important not to:
‘encourage unreasonable opposition to extensions of time which are applied for in time and which involve no significant fresh prejudice to the other parties. In cases of that nature, considerations of cost and proportionality are highly relevant, and the wider interests of justice are likely to be better served by a sensible agreement, or a short unopposed hearing, than by the adoption of entrenched positions and the expenditure of much money and court time in preparing for and dealing with an application that could have been avoided.'
However, this should not be taken as a ‘softening' of the approach of the courts to such applications as Henderson J also said that ‘it is no doubt the case that the court will scrutinise an application for an extension more rigorously than it might have done before 1 April, and that it must firmly discourage any easy assumption that an extension of time will be granted if it would not involve any obvious prejudice to the other side.'
If a reminder were needed of the changes to civil litigation post-1 April, the attention of the court was drawn to Venulum v Space Architecture  EWHC 1242 (TCC) where Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart refused permission to extend time for service of particulars relying in part on the stricter approach to now be taken and applying the checklist in CPR, r 3.9. In argument reference was also made to a lecture given by Lord Dyson MR in which he underscored the intention behind the new Overriding Objective: to herald a new and tougher approach to rule compliance and case management. While applications made before the expiry of a deadline might be viewed with some sympathy, applications for retrospective extensions are likely to receive short-shrift. We wait with interest for the first Court of Appeal decision on point.