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In the case of Baker v Hallam Estates Ltd and another  EWHC 2668 (QB) the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court of Justice set aside an order granting an extension of time made under CPR 47, on the grounds that the application was submitted out of time.
The original dispute concerned an allegation that the defendant had defamed the claimant by asserting there had been mismanagement of a property company. The case was resolved by the High Court and an order for costs in favour of the defendant was made. Consequently, in this case the claimant became the paying party and the defendant became the receiving party. A detailed assessment of costs was directed by the judge.
The claimant was subsequently required to serve points of dispute within 21 days, pursuant to CPR 47.9(2). On the day that the claimant was due to serve its’ points of dispute, the claimant successfully applied for an extension of time in which to do so. However, although the application itself was made on the last day upon which the points of dispute were due to be served, the application was not actually issued until the following day, by which time the defendant had requested a default cost certificate.
The defendant appealed against the decision to allow the extension of time.
The defendant’s appeal was allowed and the order granting extension of time to the claimant was overturned.
In reaching his decision, Judge Jeremy Richardson QC noted that the claimant had not accurately portrayed the procedural history when seeking the extension without notice application and that this constituted material non-disclosure.
Judge Jeremy Richardson QC further commented that when seeking a retrospective extension of time under CPR 3.1(2), the claimant should have also sought relief from sanctions for failing to comply with the time limit. However, the master had not considered relief from sanctions. Consequently, the master had been misled and had erred in making the order.
This case is another example of how the court is now more than ever required to act robustly in case management issues. The culture of civil litigation is in the process of change. Resources are not limitless and a more pro-active regime of case management at all stages of litigation is now adopted.
This decision should serve as a timely reminder that, as highlighted by Judge Jeremy Richardson QC, those who wait to the 59th minute of the eleventh hour to take steps only have themselves to blame if something goes wrong.
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