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Reliance National Insurance Company v Ropner Insurance Services Ltd

1 February 2001
The issues

Automatic stay – meaning of coming before a Judge

The facts

On 9th March 2000 the Claimant’s solicitors wrote to the Defendant’s solicitors enclosing a draft application and draft consent order, both of which sought CMC. Letter made it clear that the Claimant’s solicitors were seeking to avoid an automatic stay. The Defendants did not agree to the proposed directions.
On 19th April the Claimant’s solicitors faxed to the Court a letter enclosing draft proposed letter to the effect that a stay would be inappropriate (as recommended by a note from the Admiralty and Commercial Court Registry prepared in March 2000 but making it clear that the draft proposed letter was not agreed by the Defendants. The letter asked that the draft be placed before a Judge with the request that either directions be made in the terms proposed or that there should be a CMC. The letter came before Morrison LJ who endorsed the facts with the words automatic stay to apply the Claimants have not taken sufficient steps to progress a relatively stale claim.

The decision

The mere writing of a letter to the Court even it was brought to the Judge’s attention and even if he responded to it did not mean that proceedings had come before the Court on paper. Such a letter was not a notice of application.

Appeal dismissed.

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