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Lawbite: Trespassers can still be evicted – possession proceedings during the Coronavirus pandemic

  • United Kingdom
  • Litigation and dispute management
  • Real estate dispute resolution
  • Real estate litigation - LawBite

21-04-2020

Practice Direction 51Z: Stay of possession proceedings, Coronavirus

The Coronavirus pandemic is having an effect on all areas of our lives, including the property world.

Following Government announcements last month Practice Direction (‘PD’) 51Z in its original form came into effect and had the effect of staying all possession proceedings for 90 days.  It appeared to apply to all types of possession claims brought under CPR 55, commercial and residential, including (perhaps unintentionally) claims against trespassers and squatters. 

Recent amendments to PD 51Z confirm that the PD does not apply to claims against trespassers who are persons unknown.  The amendment also exempted from the PD applications for interim possession orders and applications for agreed case management directions.  It also clarified that the PD stays claims but does not preclude the issue of such claims.

Key points

  • The amendment follows calls from the legal profession for clarification of the reaches of the PD – one of those calls being in the form of a joint letter from the Property Litigation Association and the Property Bar Association to the Master of the Rolls.
  • The PD, in its original and amended form, was issued to ensure that the administration of justice including the enforcement of orders, is carried out so as not to endanger public health and in recognition of limited court resources during the pandemic.  It ceases to have effect on 30 October 2020.
  • The amendment will be a welcome relief to those property owners who regularly suffer from trespass by unknown individuals and who may continue to seek the assistance of the courts to remove such trespassers.