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:
1. whether the stay is generally unlawful;
2. whether the stay applies to case management directions; and
3. 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:
1. Should the stay be deemed unlawful, the government will likely be able to pass primarily legislation implementing this in any event.
2. 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.
3. 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.
We will update you with further information when more is available.