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Possession claims – amended practice direction issued by the court confirms claims against trespassers may proceed after all29th April 2020 Commercial Litigation
In my previous article of 7 April concerning business premises and earlier article of 30 March concerning residential property, I pointed out the unanswered questions or perhaps, unintended consequences, of the Court issuing a practice direction in haste. On 18 April 2020 the Court issued an amended practice direction to seek to clarify the earlier one, confirming that for possession claims:
- Claims against trespassers, which includes the making of interim possession orders, can proceed without restriction.
- Claims against other occupiers can still be brought but will be stayed (temporarily halted) on issue and will not proceed any further, which is as was previously understood to be the case.
- Where there are existing claims against other occupiers and the parties to them are able to agree case management directions to bring the claim on to a final hearing then they can be filed and considered by the court and appropriate orders made, although it is unlikely that those occupiers wishing to remain on possession for as long as possible will agree to anything whilst the practice direction remains in force (until 30 October 2020).
Whilst this clarification is to be welcomed it remains to be seen how much difference it will make to these claims during the lockdown period: parties will have already considered their respective positions in light of the earlier legislation and practice direction and this clarification is unlikely to make any substantial difference, save perhaps in respect of trespasser claims but that will require adequate court resources to be able to process those at all. After all, the practice direction was brought out originally in recognition of the limited availability of court resources during this period.