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Update to Practice Direction 51Z: exceptions to the stay on Part 55 proceedings

28 April 2020

By Laura Smallwood


Practice Direction 51Z, which operates to stay “all proceedings for possession” brought under CPR Part 55 for 90 days from 27th March, has been amended with effect from 18th April 2020.

The background to the amendments is a letter sent by the Property Bar Association and Property Litigation Association to the Master of the Rolls on 8th April, expressing concern that the original PD amounted to ‘a licence to trespass’, and questioning the lawfulness, and seeking clarification of the extent, of PD 51Z.

The amendments: exceptions to the stay
A new paragraph 2A of the PD clarifies that (in addition to claims for injunctive relief) the stay does not apply to:

● Claims against trespassers to which rule 55.6 applies;
● The interim possession order procedure under section III of CPR Part 55;
● Applications for case management directions where directions are agreed.

Points to note
● The amendments do not lift the stay on all Part 55 claims against trespassers;
● The reference to claims to which rule 55.6 applies limits the exclusion of the stay to claims against ‘persons unknown’. It is not clear to what extent a claim against a mix of named trespassers and ‘persons unknown’ could proceed;
● By contrast, under the IPO procedure, claims against named defendants may proceed, as well as claims against ‘persons unknown’;
● For the avoidance of doubt, the amended PD confirms that the stay on claims does not preclude the issue of proceedings.

If you require advice, or representation, in a claim relating to land or property you can instruct Laura Smallwood by contacting her clerks on 01483 539131 or emailing them at



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