The so-called ‘buffer direction’ – allowing parties to agree 28-day time extensions without seeking permission from the court – will come into force on 5 June, it was announced today.
The statutory instrument giving effect to the change – The Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 5) Rules 2014 – has been made and laid before Parliament.
However, the Civil Procedure Rule Committee has included safeguards. The change to rule 3.8 of the CPR provides that where a rule, practice direction or court order requires a party to do something within a specified time, and specifies the consequences of failure to comply, the parties may, by prior written agreement, extend up to a maximum of 28 days the time for doing the act in question, provided that any hearing date is not put at risk as a result.
The CPRC’s move comes as a result of the Mitchell ruling on relief from sanctions for non-compliance and a similar direction that was initially adopted by QB masters in clinical negligence cases.
A commentary released with the 73rd update of the CPR, which incorporates the change, said courts’ “more robust approach… have prompted practitioners to abide by the rules and submit formal applications to the court for extensions of time.
“This has placed a disproportionate burden on court resources and has implications for listed trials which may be delayed whilst applications are determined.”
The secondary legislation also rectifies an omission from the statutory instrument which established the Planning Court, namely that specialist planning judges to deal with significant Planning Court claims will be nominated by the President of the Queen’s Bench Division.