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Case note: Hotel Portfolio II UK Ltd (In Liquidation) v Ruhan [2020] 7 WLUK 340

Case note: Hotel Portfolio II UK Ltd (In Liquidation) v Ruhan [2020] 7 WLUK 340

  1. The latest decision to suggest (unsurprisingly) that the Courts are continuing to take a more flexible approach and to make allowances for procedural shortcomings in the wake of the pandemic (although parties’ reasons for non-compliance will be subject to scrutiny) is Hotel Portfolio II UK Ltd v Ruhan, a decision of Foxton J in the QBD.
  2. A case digest is available on Westlaw.
  3. The main action concerned a number of transactions which had been made between the parties. A trial had been set down for November 2021, with the original disclosure deadline of January 2020 having already been extended to April 2020 by an application made in March 2020.
  4. The Defendants then made a further application for an extension of time for disclosure and witness statements due to the difficulties caused by the lockdown, which they said had not been within their reasonable contemplation at the time of the first application in March. This was accepted by the Court, and the Claimant’s argument that the difficulties caused by the lockdown had been within the Defendants’ contemplation back in March was rejected. However, although the Court accepted that the pandemic had caused some delay, it nonetheless expressed dissatisfaction with the Defendants’ progress, ultimately granting an extension of time to September 2020.
  5. The Second Defendant also sought an extension of time for witness statements. This was granted (to 31 August 2020) although the Court again commented that insufficient thought and effort had been put into circumventing the problems caused by the lockdown.
  6. Whilst this decision (and anecdotal experience) suggests that in general the Courts continue to adopt a sympathetic and pragmatic approach to parties who have faced genuine difficulties in the wake of the lockdown, judges are clearly alive to the possibility of litigants using the lockdown as an excuse when compliance with directions would have been entirely feasible. Parties to litigation and their advisers should be aware that the Court’s lenient approach will only go so far, and efforts should be made to comply with existing procedural timetables insofar as possible.



24 July 2020

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