We are fast approaching Christmas and it is useful to know how to calculate a defence due date over the festive period where there are a number of bank holidays and office closures.
A defendant has a maximum period of 28 days to file and serve their defence if they file and serve an acknowledgement of service within 14 days after service of the court proceedings. The parties can agree to extend the period for filing and serving the defence by a maximum of 28 days and the defendant can make an application to the court for permission to extend the time for service of the defence.
A commonly asked question is whether defendants are permitted extra days under the CPR if there are bank holidays during the response period for filing and serving the defence.
The annex to Practice Direction 2A provides that court office will be closed for Christmas and New Year on 25 December, 26 December, 27 December and 1 January. Below is a useful table showing court office closures for each year up until 2022:
CPR, r. 2.8(5) provides that if the date for doing any act at the court office ends on a day in which the court office is closed then that act shall be carried out in time if it is done on the next day when the court office is open. For example, if the defence would have been due on 26 December 2017 it does not actually become due until 28 December 2017 because this is the first day when the court office is open after the date when the defence would have been due.
It should be noted that a defendant is not entitled to extra days for filing the defence just because there were bank holidays/court office closures within the period of time permitted for responding to the claim. The date for filing and serving the defence must fall on a day when the court office is closed for extra day(s) to be permitted under the rules. Otherwise normal extensions need to be agreed between the parties or a formal application should be made to the court to extend the period of time for filing and serving the defence.