In this case, the applicant failed to comply with an unless order to file his appeal bundle. The unless order specifically provided that his claim would be struck out if he failed to comply.

After the deadline had elapsed the applicant applied for an extension of time to file his appeal bundle on the basis that his preparation of the appeal bundle had been hampered due to adverse weather conditions which had meant that his home was without electricity for several days. Also, he submitted that he had difficulties in obtaining a final transcript of the first instance judgment which was another contributing factor to the delay.

The decision

The court noted that this was in substance an application for relief from sanctions and under CPR, r. 3.9 the three stage test in Denton v TH White Ltd [2014] EWCA Cic 906, was to be applied.

In respect of the first stage of the test, it was held that the breach was serious and significant because there had been a serious delay by the applicant in complying with rules and court orders throughout the course of the litigation.

In respect of the second stage, there was no good reason for the breach and the applicant had failed to provide any explanation for his delay in filing the appeal bundle.

In relation to the third stage, the court considered all the circumstances of the case and stated that whilst it would be sympathetic to circumstances outside of a person’s control which made it impossible for them to comply with an order, rule or practice direction, there was no evidence of such circumstances in this case.

It was noted that the applicant’s skeleton argument had been filed late when there was no justification for this and the power cut which had affected the applicant’s home did not explain why there had been significant delays.

In respect of the balance of justice, the court noted that the applicant was a litigant in person but applied the recent BLM case of Barton v Wright Hassall LLP [2018] UKSC 12, stating that he should not be extended any greater indulgence than a represented party. Also, the court noted that there were issues in respect of possible bankruptcy and that any delay was likely to affect the rights of creditors.

The court held that, on balance, it was just and reasonable to refuse the application for relief from sanctions.

What this means for you

This is another case that highlights the importance of complying with court orders, rules and practice directions.

It can be seen that the court reached a predictable conclusion on the basis that there had been non-compliance with an unless order and significant delays and previous breaches in respect of court deadlines.

This case shows that the courts will not allow litigants in person any greater indulgence than a represented party unless a particular rule or practice direction is obscure, remote and/or not understandable etc. Here, the applicant was fully aware of the court deadline and was present when the judge made the unless order. As a result, there were insufficient grounds to permit the application for an extension of time when the court considered the overall circumstances of the case.