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Royal Courts Of Justice

First Covid-19 court order secured in brain injury case

What is thought to be the first court order in a civil legal case to include directions made by reference to the Covid-19 pandemic has been handed down by the High Court.

Posted on 17 March 2020

Thomas Jervis of law firm Leigh Day has secured the “Covid-19 Direction” displacing the normal rule for time extensions under Civil Procedure Rule 3.8(4) as a direct result of the potential practice disruptions that could be caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic.

The order relates to a high value subtle brain injury case, O’Driscoll v F.I.V.E Bianchi S.p.A, which arose out of an incident caused by a defective Bianchi road bicycle where the claimant is alleged to have suffered serious injuries.  There are 14 experts (seven instructed by either side) and it is listed for a five-day quantum only trial next year.
Master Davison sitting in the High Court granted the claimant’s request for permission for the parties to agree extensions of time for up to 56 days by consent without further Order from the Court in light of the Covid-19 Pandemic.  This direction was specifically sought by the claimant’s representatives in the absence of any formal guidance by the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.   
At present, the general position under CPR.3.8(4) is that parties can only agree up to 28 day extensions of time providing that any such extension does not put at risk any hearing date. 
It is not yet known exactly how Covid-19 may affect the operation of the court system in the UK, however the media has reported how it has already started to affect the practice of courts in other jurisdictions. For example, the US Supreme Court has already started delaying important hearings listed in late March and early April 2020 due to Covid-19.
Adam Korn of 7 Bedford Row is instructed by Leigh Day in the case.