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High Court Eviction Process to be Slowed31st July 2020 Commercial Litigation
The Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 3) Rules 2020 were announced a couple of weeks ago and came into force on 17 July 2020.
Among other things, they introduce an amendment which affects eviction notices for writs of possession. These are eviction notices that are prepared by the High Court when an eviction is transferred from the County Court to the High Court.
Under the new procedure a notice of eviction in a standard form will need to be delivered to the property at least 14 days before an eviction. This will apply both for County Court warrants of possession and High Court writs of possession from 23 August.
When executing High Court writ previously officers were under no obligation to give notice, which made the High Court writ a significantly quicker way of obtaining possession as there was quicker availability of enforcement officers and they had a shorter procedural timeline. However, after the amendment, there will be a reduced benefit to using the High Court. In the current situation there also appears to be some doubt as to whether and how quickly the County Court will process the forms needed to transfer possession orders to the High Court for enforcement.
A notice will be required for all evictions, apart from evictions of trespassers who had no permission to enter the premises.
- The amendment does grant the court some discretionary powers to:
- dispense with the notice requirement; or
- extend or shorten the requisite notice period.
The discretion could arguably be used to circumvent the notice requirement in limited circumstances where a landlord is able to convince the court that there is a good reason for it. However, this is probably only going be successful in extreme cases.
We already wrote about the new Practice Direction 55C here, which sets out the new regime for restarting possession claims after the stay is lifted on 23 August. There is a lot landlords should be aware of in preparation for the reopening, including the need for reactivation notices, an example of which we prepared here.
A crucial point will be the timeliness of each steps, starting with the service of s8 or s21 notices (we provided some guidance here), in order to avoid unnecessary delay to what in any event is shaping up to be a long and tedious process for any landlord who wants to seek possession.