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Automatic stay


The automatic stay provisions of Part 51, para 19 which apply where the existing proceedings did not come before a judge, at a hearing or on paper, between 26 April 1999 and 25 April 2000 can have a stultifying effect on property. For example, where a tenant has made a lease renewal claim but has not pursued it and the proceedings have been stayed. As the proceedings have been stayed rather than ended, s64 of the 1954 Act does not operate and the tenancy continues under s24. In order to bring matters to a head the landlord needs to apply to have the claim struck out / dismissed. If he does so the tenant may want to apply for the stay to be lifted.

In these two cases the CA considered applications to lift the stay generally. When deciding whether or not to lift the stay the court should apply the checklist set out in CPR 3.9.

Audergon v La Baguette Ltd [2002] [2002] EWCA Civ 10; Woodhouse v Consignia plc [2002] EWCA Civ 275.

Effect on claims for land

The judge at first instance refused to lift the automatic stay imposed by Part 51. The claimant argued that refusing to lift a stay in an action relating to recovery of land has the effect of sterilising it. The owner cannot sell because someone is in possession who he cannot remove, and the squatter cannot sell because he cannot ever obtain title by adverse possession. Under the new Land Registration Act 2002 no one can apply to be registered if he or she is a defendant to a claim for possession. The CA agreed and lifted the stay.

Overseas & Commercial Developments Ltd v Cox [2002] EWCA Civ 635.

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