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An update on possession proceedings: Practice Direction 55C

Posted on 5 August 2020 by Sasha Loveridge

An update on possession proceedings: Practice Direction 55C

Following the stay on residential possession proceedings, a new Practice Direction has been introduced in order to get possession hearings “back on track”.

As most will be aware, possession proceedings were stayed (with minor exceptions e.g. claims against trespassers) until 23 August 2020. The Government has now announced that from 23 August 2020, in order to proceed with possession cases, a reactivation notice is required.

Where possession proceedings were issued before 3 August 2020, no claim is to be listed, re-listed, heard or referred to a Judge unless one of the parties serves a reactivation notice. The reactivation notice must:-

1. Confirm that the party serving the notice wishes the case to be either listed, relisted, heard or referred to a Judge; and

2. Set out (to the best of their knowledge) the effect the coronavirus pandemic has had on the Defendant (and their dependants).

There are also further requirements which may apply:

•  If the claim is based on rent arrears, a rent account for the last two years must be served with the notice.

•  If case management directions had been made before the stay either a copy of the last directions together with proposed new dates must be served (with draft directions) or a statement that no new directions are required and any existing hearing date can be met must be filed together with a statement as to whether the case is suitable for hearing by video or audio link.

If a party does not file a reactivation notice by 29 January 2021, then the case will automatically be stayed. You can however apply to have the stay lifted.

The Court must give 21 days notices to the parties of any hearing listed or relisted in response to a reactivation notice (unless it directs otherwise).

For cases that were issued after 3 August 2020 and stayed or issued after 23 August 2020, no reactivation notice is required. There is however a requirement to serve a notice demonstrating:

1. The landlord’s compliance with the pre-action protocol; and

2. A statement as to the knowledge the landlord has about the effect of the pandemic on the tenant (and their dependants).

This notice must be served 14 days before the hearing and the landlord must bring two copies to the hearing.

For accelerated possession claims, the Claimant must file with the Claim Form, a notice setting out what knowledge the landlord has as to the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic on the Defendant and their dependants.

It is important to note that the requirement to give three months’ notice continues until 30 September 2020.

The requirement that possession cases must be listed for hearing within 8 weeks of issue has been temporarily suspended until 28 March 2020, no doubt to help the Courts tackle the backlog they will be faced with as many landlords will be reactivating their claims and many issuing proceedings.

For assistance getting your possession claim back on track, please contact Sasha Loveridge on 01935 385 996.

Posted in: Dispute Resolution