There is a new court practice direction dealing with the processing of tenant eviction claims called Practice Direction 55C. The new practice direction is a temporary modification to the procedural rules, it commences at the end of the current suspension of tenant eviction claims on 23.08.20 and ends on 28.03.21.
The practice direction is here: https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/CPR-123rd-PD-Update-PD55C-SIGNED.pdf
New Claims and Stayed Claims
The new practice direction distinguishes between two categories of tenant eviction claim. Claims commenced and suspended before 22.08.20 are stayed claims. Claims commenced after 22.08.20 are new claims.
Stayed claims cannot be listed, re-listed, heard or referred to a judge until a re-activation notice is sent to the court and other side setting out how the party wishes to proceed. However, this does not apply to stayed claims started after 03.08.20 or claims in which a final possession order has been made.
Reactivating a Claim
The “re-activation notice” must confirm how the party serving the notice wishes to proceed. Where it is the landlord serving the “re-activation notice” he or she must inform the court what knowledge he or she has of the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic on the tenant and their dependants.
A party must serve an up to date rent account with the “re-activation notice” where the tenant eviction claim is based on rent arrears. The rent account must go back 2 years.
Any trial date that was set before 27.03.20 is cancelled and the case suspended unless one party serves a “re-activation notice and a rent account if relevant, not less than 42 days before the hearing date.
Where a court had given directions for the parties to prepare a case for trial, the “re-activation notice” must also include a copy of the most recent directions order, draft new directions for the courts approval, or a statement to the effect that the current directions can be complied with. A statement is required indicating whether the case is suitable for hearing by video or audio link.
Any stayed claims not re-activated by 4 pm 29.01.21 are automatically suspended but the suspension may be lifted upon a simple application to the court.
The court must give all parties at least 21 day’s notice of any hearing listed in response to a “re-activation notice.”
The requirement for the court to list a hearing within 8 weeks of issuing a claim is suspended.
Claims Brought After 03.08.20
In any claim (new and stayed) brought after 03.08.20, social landlords must bring to court 2 copies of the relevant pre-action protocol and detail how the protocol has been complied with.
In any tenant eviction claim (new and stayed) started after the 03.08.20 the landlord must bring to court 2 copies of a notice setting out what knowledge they have of the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic on the tenant and their dependants. Both the protocol (if relevant) and the notice regarding the landlord’s knowledge of the effect of the Coronavirus on the tenant and their dependants must be served on the tenant not less than 14 days before the hearing.
Accelerated Possession Claims
In any Accelerated Possession Claim brought on or after 03.08.20, the notice setting out the landlord’s knowledge of the effect of the pandemic on the tenant and their dependents must be sent to the court with the claim form.
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The contents of this note are simply the view of the author at the date of writing.