The stay on possession proceedings precipitated by COVID-19 and imposed by CPR PD 51Z was due to expire on 23 August 2020. We now understand that the stay has been extended for a second time until 20 September 2020 (https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/housing-possession-proceedings-suspension-extended-again/5105398.article).
A working group led by the Master of the Rolls has been working with Designated Civil Judges across the country to decide how best to meet the challenges of conducting possession proceedings during the Pandemic.
No firm guidance has yet been published, however it seems like that, when possession hearings return, there will be system for listing claims for Review (R) hearings initially (where a Judge will review a bundle to ensure the claim appears to be in order, without the attendance of the parties). If the Judge is satisfied with the contents on the bundle at the R hearing then the matter will be listed for a Substantive (S) hearing 28 days later, which may require the parties to attend.
Although borrowers will not be expected to attend the R hearing, they may attend Court on the date to seek the assistance of a duty adviser. The duty adviser will have access to the bundle filed by the Claimant and will then be able to make arrangements to assist the borrower at the S hearing.
Whilst there is a large backlog of possession cases, priority will be given to cases with allegations of anti-social behaviour, against trespassers or alleged squatters/illegal occupiers, cases with alleged fraud, deception, illegal sub-letting, abandonment/non-occupation or deceased Defendants.