Jackson overturns High Court decision

Jackson overturns High Court decision

Following the ever widening interpretations of the Jackson civil reforms, Lord Justice Jackson himself has overturned a High Court decision regarding the granting of time extensions and what he regards as an incorrect use of his reforms.

In the case of Hallam Estates Ltd and Michael Stainer v Teresa Baker [2014] EWCA Civ 661, 19 May 2014, Jackson considered this to be an issue of case management, not relief from sanctions as the Defendant had argued and so rejected this claim.

‘Reasonableness’ and the ‘impact on future hearings’ are Jackson’s criteria for granting time extensions and these were met by the costs judge finding the reasons given to be fair and that there would be no impact on any further hearings. In his Appeal Judgement, Jackson states that the judge had taken the correct approach, taking into account the overriding objective. Not only were these actions within his reformed guidelines, but it was also the most cost effective approach to dealing with the situation:

The original costs judge was dealing with a ‘straightforward application to extend time’ with which the High Court judge should not have interfered, according to Jackson. The Claimants had done all that was expected of them in filing an application for a time extension, and gave fair reasons for doing so, despite the Defendant refusing to agree with these reasons.

‘… it was not 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, as explained in paragraphs 11 and 12 above. Nor was it any part of my recommendations that the court should refuse to grant reasonable extensions of time in those circumstances. ‘

Jackson went on to point out that based on the above, the unreasonable behaviour principle of the Mitchell case clearly does not apply to these circumstances. The Defendant had tried to rely on this on the basis that this was an application for relief from sanctions, but this was rejected.

The other appeal judges sitting agreed with Jackson’s comments. This is a noteworthy ruling in which Jackson has made a concerted effort to clarify the intentions of his reforms, and rein in the use of the Mitchell principle amidst the wide spectrum of decisions that have preceded this case.

For full judgement click here