A new paragraph 25 of the model directions for all matters in the Royal Courts of Justice constitutes the first major blow to the procedural stringency of the post-Mitchell era.
Specifically, the paragraph enables parties to agree to extend time for up to 28 days without the need to apply to the court:
‘The parties may, by prior agreement in writing, extend the time for directions, in the Order dated xxxxxx, by up to 28 days and without the need to apply to Court. Beyond that 28 day period, any agreed extension of time must be submitted to the Court by email including a brief explanation of the reasons, confirmation that it will not prejudice any hearing date and with a draft Consent Order in word format. The Court will then consider whether a formal Application and Hearing is necessary’.
The new paragraph was approved by Master Cook, Master of the Rolls and President of the Queen’s Bench Division, in a hearing on 12 February 2014.
This is a welcomed development and an important victory for British civil justice. It is hoped that paragraph 25 will be incorporated into the CPR and extended to all matters in the country courts.