Pay attention to those dates in Court Orders!
Your solicitor will manage the timing of your case subject to many variables including client cooperation and the directions in the Civil Procedure Rules and Court Orders. It has recently become even more important for parties involved in litigation to pay attention to deadlines and to cooperate with their solicitor in the preparation of their case.
Litigation lawyers are coming to terms with tougher rules on complying with deadlines in cases following the ‘Mitchell’ case. The rules are not applied so that every default results in a penalty. However, parties and their advisors who fail to comply will have to show that the breach is so trivial that the Court should grant relief, for example, allowing a statement to be filed after the date stated in an Order. If a party has complied with all other required steps and missed the deadline by a day or so, the Court is more likely to allow the late filing, particularly if the application to file late has been made promptly. A lengthy delay and a late application might not be considered trivial and the party in default must persuade the Court that it should grant relief. An accident or debilitating illness or late developments that prevent the step being taken might constitute good reason for the delay. Overlooking a deadline or ‘too much work’ will not. An application for an extension of time to comply made before the deadline will be looked upon more sympathetically. Otherwise, the Courts are taking a robust approach.
Next time you receive a copy of a Court Order or a letter from your solicitor setting out dates for steps to be taken in the case, pay close attention and mark these in your own diary. It does no harm to check that steps have been taken on time. You are entitled to rely upon your solicitor taking steps on time (with your cooperation) but it’s your case so why shouldn’t you be involved in driving it on.
Keith Hardington 01756 700200 and [email protected]