Practice Direction 51 ZA provides for, generally, all proceedings for possession brought under Part 55 to be stayed for a period of 90 days from 20 April 2020.
The Court of Appeal is to hear a challenge to this Practice Direction on 30 April. We understand the case to involve two claims for possession on residential mortgages by a receiver. The claimant is challenging the Practice Direction on the basis of:
- Whether the stay is generally unlawful;
- Whether the stay applies to case management directions; and
- Whether the stay may be lifted on a case-by-case basis.
Whilst we are unaware of the facts of the case, we anticipate this will be important given the current pandemic. Some initial thoughts are below:
- Should the stay be deemed unlawful, the government will likely be able to pass primarily legislation implementing this in any event.
- Whilst we are of the view case management directions can continue in most cases, this will undoubtedly cause a backlog of cases ready for trial for the courts to deal with once the stay is lifted.
- We consider there should be some scenarios where the stay could be lifted without causing unnecessary distress to individuals, for example, where there is no risk of homelessness.