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courts consider all circumstances in applications for relief from sanctions

23 April 2014

Post Jackson the courts have taken a strict approach to failure to comply with rules, practice directions and orders. However, the case of Chartwell Estate Agents Limited the Court of Appeal reminded us that under the revised CPR r.3.9, courts are to consider all circumstances of a case when considering applications for relief from sanctions and not just those set out in the rules.

In this case both parties failed to serve witness statements by the date ordered. The claimant applied for permission from the court (pursuant to CPR 32.10) to serve statements out of time as witness evidence was fundamental to it being able to prove its case.

At first instance, despite finding that there had been no good reason for its non-compliance, the judge allowed the claimant’s application on the grounds that refusal would have had the disproportionate consequence of effectively ending the claim. The Court of Appeal up held this decision emphasising that the factors specified in r.3.9 did not prevail over all other circumstances.

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