Judiciary mulls allowing parties to agree time extensions between themselves

Richards LJ: approved clinical negligence change

The judiciary is considering a change to model directions that would allow parties to agree a 28-day extension to time limits without the need for court approval, it has emerged.

The move – which appears aimed at reducing the flow of Mitchell-inspired extension of time applications – has already been made to the clinical negligence model direction used by the Queen’s Bench Masters.

It was approved by the president of the Queen’s Bench Division, Lord Justice Leveson, and the deputy head of civil justice, Lord Justice Richards.

The direction says: “The parties may, by prior agreement in writing, extend the time for directions, in the order dated X, by up to 28 days and without the need to apply to court. Beyond that 28-day period, any agreed extension of time must be submitted to the court by e-mail including a brief explanation of the reasons, confirmation that it will not prejudice any hearing date and with a draft consent order in Word format. The court will then consider whether a formal application and hearing is necessary.”

A statement from the judiciary to this website said: “No decision has been taken on whether there should be any general change to model directions or to standard directions under the Civil Procedure Rules. This is the subject of discussion within the Civil Procedure Rule Committee and any decision will require the approval of the Master of the Rolls.”

In a blog about the new direction, well-known solicitor Kerry Underwood, a leading critic of the Mitchell decision, said: “This is a major policy change and a major blow to the Jackson-Mitchell courts and thus a huge victory for the traditional principles of British justice.”

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