19 March, 2020
It was reported on 17 March 2020 that the first court direction related to Coronavirus was handed down in a civil legal case. The direction displaced the normal rule for time extensions under the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR).
O'Driscoll v F.I.V.E Bianchi has been listed for a five day, quantum-only trial next year and concerns the Claimant being involved in an incident on a Bianchi road bicycle.
At present, the general position under CPR 3.8(4) is that parties can only agree up to 28 day extensions of time, providing that any such extension does not put at risk any hearing date.
Sitting in the High Court, Master Davison granted the claimant's request for permission for the parties to agree extensions of time for up to 56 days by consent without further order from the Court, in light of the potential disruptions which are likely to be caused by Covid-19. This is a significant departure from the CPR.
Some lawyers are calling on the Government to consider amending the rules during these unprecedented times to allow for more time to meet court deadlines. With emergency legislation being passed on a variety of unrelated issues as Covid-19 develops in England & Wales, we will be keeping a close eye on any decisions made regarding suspending limitation periods and/or extending time limits.