Court enforcement and other changes to the CPR affecting possession claims
August 7, 2020
The Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 3) Rules 2020 (UK Statutory Instruments 2020 No. 747 (L. 16) may not have inspired much interest among practitioners. However, by amending CPR 83 by inserting a new rule 83A they introduce some change of note especially important notice requirements before a warrant of possession may be enforced. There are some other more minor changes of which the practitioner should be aware which are touched on below.
Changes to enforcement by warrant
Until 23 August 2020 all enforcement measures have been stayed by CPR 55.29. However, thereafter there is likely to be a backlog of cases. Court enforcement officers, as they are now called, will be of the utmost importance.
The amendments to the CPR contained in rule 83 A come into force on the 23 August 2020 but other parts of the SI will come into force on 20 October 2020.
However, on the main subject matter of this article, the following changes will be made to rule 83 to enforcing possession orders by writs and warrants of possession:
- Notice will need to be given at least 14 days before the warrant of possession is executed, except where the warrant is against trespassers. However, the definition of “trespassers” is that contained within CPR 55 – i.e. those who never had consent of the owner for their entry into the premises and not those who hold over, for example, following expiry of a contractual tenancy.
- The notice must be in the prescribed form and must be addressed to all persons against whom possession is sought and “any other occupiers”. It must be inserted through the letterbox in a sealed transparent envelope or attach the main door of the premises so that it is clearly visible. Failing that, it is possible to attach the notice on a “stake” on the land. Furthermore, the court has a power to dispense with notice or alter the time set for delivery up of possession.
It is important to note that these changes apply to both private and public residential premises as well as to commercial premises. The intention of parliament is clearly to allow greater time before enforcement even when evictions are allowed following the lifting of the stay.
Other changes introduced by the SI
It is note that one of the other changes sneaked in by the latest SI (by inserting a new CPR 3.13 (3)) is that, when it is fully in force, the court may require costs budget to be prepared in all cases and not just those where the CPR currently require them to be (see PD 3E, paragraph 2).
Another minor change in the SI relates to the automatic transfer to the local district registry where the land is situated when a case is transferred for enforcement to the High Court (by inserting a new CPR 30. 4 (3) into the CPR).
A substituted CPR 32 .14 introduces a contempt power where a party relies on a false statement of truth.
The contempt power itself is updated and replaced with a new version if CPR 81. The old CPR 81 and PD 81 are to be replaced by this one.
Finally there are changes to the charging order rule (CPR 73) by inserting a requirement that the judgment creditor files a certificate of service and a statement of the amount due under the judgment or order. Otherwise the court may discharge an interim charging order and dismiss the claim (see the substituted CPR 73.10 (6B)).
Aligning the procedure for enforcing possession orders in the High Court with those operating in the County Court has attractions of simplification but the effect will be to make High Court enforcement less attractive and one wonders whether the cost of HC enforcement is worth the extra expense now that the advantage of speed is likely to be reduced.
The other changes are not without significance, but they may be lost by practitioners who are caught up in the stampede to the courts, especially the county courts, when their doors finally reopen to anything like normal business, one hopes, later in 2020. Possession orders are likely to be those which claimants are most likely to want to enforce.