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Sometimes imponderables may not allow orders of compliance to be carried out says High Court

Date: (17 June 2013)    |    

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Post Jackson applications for extensions must by subjected to scrutiny more rigorously than before but at the same time the courts must avoid encouraging unreasonable opposition the High Court has said.

Mr Justice Henderson said there were some court orders relating to completion of specified stages in preparation for trial, such as disclosure or exchange of witness statements, where "there may still be so many imponderables when the order is made that the date for compliance cannot sensibly be regarded as written in stone".
He was ruling in Re Atrium Training Services and Connor Williams [2013] EWHC 1562, an insolvency case. The justice cited another case where the High Court had ruled in Venulum Property Investments v Space Architecture and others where the judge had refused an application for an extension of time, relying partly on the stricter post Jackson approach.
He said there was no doubt that court would scrutinise an application for an extension more strictly than it would have done before 1 April, and the courts should firmly discourage any easy assumption that an extension of time would be granted if it would not involve any obvious prejudice to the other side.
He continued that on the other hand it was important not to go to the other extreme and not to encourage a reasonable opposition to extensions which were applied for in time and which involve no significant fresh prejudice to other parties.
In cases of that nature, considerations of cost and proportionality are highly relevant, and the wider interests of justice are likely to be better served by a sensible agreement, or a short unopposed hearing, than by the adoption of entrenched positions and the expenditure of much money and court time in preparing for and dealing with an application that could have been avoided.
Henderson J added things would always depend on the circumstances of the particular case, and the stage in the proceedings when the order is made, but in many such cases it should be understood that there may be a need for reasonable extensions of time or other adjustments as the matter develops.
Mr Justice Henderson ruled that the liquidators of Atrium Training should be granted an extension of time to comply with their disclosure obligations under an order made in November.