Judiciary looks at allowing parties to agree time extensions without court approval

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In a move to reduce the amount of extension of time applications brought in following the infamous Mitchell decision, parties could be allowed to agree a 28-day extension to time limits between themselves.

Litigation Futures has reported that the judiciary is considering a change to model directions and that the alteration has already been made to the clinical negligence model direction used by the Queen’s Bench Masters after being approved by Lord Justice Leveson, and the deputy head of civil justice, Lord Justice Richards.

The direction says that parties may, by prior agreement in writing, extend the time for directions by up to 28 days and without the need to apply to court.

“Beyond that 28-day period,” it says, “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.”

Litigation Futures reported that the judiciary said that no decision had 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,” read a statement submitted to Litigation Futures.

In a blog about the move, Claims Magazine columnist Kerry Underwood, 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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Marek Handzel

Marek Handzel is the editor of Claims Magazine. Marek welcomes articles, letters, or feedback from readers and can be reached by emailing marek.handzel@barkerbrooks.co.uk