Following the temporary enactment of Practice Direction 51Z, all possession claims were stayed and a new Practice Direction is to come into force on 23 August 2020 allowing all stayed claims to be resumed.
The new rules are set out under Practice Direction 55C which confirms the courts will not be automatically resuming possession claims. The text of the new Practice Direction can be read here.
Under the new Practice Direction stayed claims will not be listed for a hearing or referred to a judge until one of the parties files with the court, and serves upon the other party, a reactivation notice.
The reactivation notice must:
- Confirm that the party filing it wishes for the case to be listed for a hearing or referred to a judge.
- Confirm what knowledge that the Claimant (if it is the Claimant filing it) of the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic has had on the Defendant and their dependants.
- Where the claim relates to rent arrears, the reactivation notice be accompanied by an updated rent statement for the past 2 years (except in cases relating to an appeal).
- For a stayed claim in which case management directions were made before 23 August 2020, a party filing and serving a reactivation notice must file and serve with it:
- a copy of the last directions order together with new dates for compliance with the directions taking account of the stay before 23 August 2020; and
- a draft order setting out additional or alternative directions (including proposing a new hearing date) which are required; or
- a statement in writing that no new directions are required and that an existing hearing date can be met;
- and (c) a statement in writing whether the case is suitable for hearing by video or audio link.
The courts will be required to give parties at least 21 days’ notice of any hearing listed in response to a reactivation notice.
In any claim (whether a new claim or a stayed claim) brought on or after 3 August 2020, the Claimant must:
- bring to the hearing two copies of a notice—
- in a claim to which the Pre-Action Protocol for Possession Claims by Social Landlords is applicable, confirming that the Claimant has 6 complied with that Pre-Action Protocol and detailing how the Claimant has done so; and
- in all claims, setting out what knowledge that party has as to the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic on the Defendant and their dependants; and
- serve on the Defendant not less than 14 days prior to the hearing the notices referred to in sub-paragraph (a) setting out what knowledge that party has as to the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic on the Defendant and their dependants.
In any accelerated possession claim (whether a new claim or a stayed claim) brought on or after 3 August 2020 the Claimant must file with the claim form a notice setting out what knowledge that party has as to the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic on the Defendant and their dependants.
Landlords with stayed possession proceedings should ensure they comply with the new Practice Direction where applicable to ensure the case is not delayed further.