Legal Cost Specialists

Hallam Estates Ltd v Baker – Extensions of time for Points of Dispute

Lord Justice Jackson handed down yesterday an important decision on applications to extend time for serving points of dispute in Hallam Estates Ltd & Anor v Baker [2014] EWCA Civ 661. Master Gordon-Saker’s earlier sensible decision was reinstated.

The judgment contains a helpful “executive summary” (more of these please in judgments):

“In detailed assessment proceedings the paying parties applied for a reasonable extension of time in which to serve their points of dispute. That extension of time would not imperil any hearing dates or otherwise disrupt the proceedings. The costs judge granted that extension of time and subsequently rejected an application to set it aside.

The receiving party appealed to the High Court against the latter decision. The judge allowed the appeal on the grounds that (i) there had been non-disclosure and (ii) the costs judge had impermissibly granted relief from sanctions. The allegations of non-disclosure are now withdrawn. Furthermore, the costs judge was not dealing with relief from sanctions. He was making a case management decision about extension of time. The judge ought not to have interfered with the costs judge’s exercise of discretion.”

The decision does highlight one current problem area that parties apparently cannot agree such extensions without the court’s approval being sought:

“Pursuant to rule 3.8 (3) the court’s approval would have been required for any such agreement, but that would have been a formality. By way of digression I comment that rule 3.8 will shortly be amended so that in the ordinary way parties can, without reference to the court, agree extensions of time up to 28 days, provided that this does not put at risk any hearing date.”

Crucially, for applications for extensions made before expiry of the deadline:

“An application for an extension of the time allowed to take any particular step in litigation is not an application for relief from sanctions, provided that the applicant files his application notice before expiry of the permitted time period. This is the case even if the court deals with that application after the expiry of the relevant period. … It therefore follows that on 16th May 2013 the costs judge was dealing with an in-time application. This was a straightforward application to extend time under rule 3.1(2)(a). The principles concerning relief from sanctions which the Court of Appeal enunciated in Mitchell v News Group Newspapers Ltd [2013] EWCA Civ 1537; [2014] 1 WLR 795 are not applicable.”

A word of warning in respect of parties unreasonably refusing to agree to extensions of time:

“Nevertheless it was no part of my recommendations that parties should refrain from agreeing reasonable extensions of time, which neither imperil hearing dates nor otherwise disrupt the proceedings. The contrary is the case…”

3 thoughts on “Hallam Estates Ltd v Baker – Extensions of time for Points of Dispute”

  1. Nice to hear some sense coming from the CoA for a change
    I so tire of RP firms refusing time extensions whilst also refusing to answer basic questions (“so what qualification does this chap have exactly to charge as grade B?????”) to enable offers to be properly made, so perhaps more applications for extensions will follow
    But……oh dear…..should we not expect equally PP firms just firing off extension applications, probably just for point scoring or added revenue streams (“the RP has refused to engage in negotiation, so we want more time to force them to, and they should pay our costs of this really complex application in the sum of £750.00 please – yes, we know its a template we use on every single application but really, its very complex and time consuming to print off”)

    I soooo look forward to the spirit of compromise and co-operation putting its head above the parapet after this judgement, only to be shot

    PS for those watching, the answer to the wasteful applications is found in the judgement

  2. Ticklemebills

    When are we going to get a judgment about something of real interest – Part 36 in DA proceedings for instance rather than decisions about common sense.

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