Lawyers were today granted extra leeway to extend case management agreements by up to 28 days.
The so-called ‘buffer rule’ was introduced as an amendment to the Civil Procedure Rules and will apply across all areas of civil litigation.
The change, first revealed by the Gazette in March, allows prior written agreements to be extended by a maximum 28 days, provided both parties agree and it does not put any hearing date at risk.
The rule is intended to go some way to easing the pressure experienced by courts as solicitors apply for applications for extensions of time to file witness statements and other documents, or pre-emptively seek relief from sanction where a deadline has been missed.
Sue Nash, chair of the Association of Costs Lawyers, said: ‘This is a sensible amendment to the rules which should promote greater co-operation between the parties as well as relieving some of the huge pressures under which the courts are labouring.
‘It will also alleviate the additional costs that have been being incurred through applications for extensions of time.’
A blog for Sterling Costs Consultants described it as a ‘good day for common sense’.
The article pointed out that Lord Justice Jackson (pictured) had never included in his recommendations that parties should refrain from agreeing reasonable extensions of time.
The judiciary will seek to offer further guidance on the application of the Jackson reforms when master of the rolls Lord Dyson hears three applications for relief from sanctions over 16 and 17 June.