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Practice Direction 51Z – to Stay Possession Proceedings


Following the announcement yesterday evening, here is the 117th Practice Direction Update to the Civil Procedure Rules – Coronavirus Pandemic related.

This introduces Practice Direction 51Z

The Master of the Rolls and the Lord Chancellor have signed Practice Direction 51Z (PD) in relation to housing possession proceedings during the Coronavirus pandemic. It follows the Coronavirus Act 2020 emergency legislation and complements the provisions herein to prevent imminent evictions and delay possession proceedings.

The PD is effective immediately ie from today, 27th March 2020

The main changes effected by this PD are:

All proceedings for housing possession brought under CPR Part 55 and all proceedings seeking to enforce an order for possession by a warrant or writ of possession are stayed for a period of 90 days from today, 27th March 2020.

Claims for injunctive relief are not subject to the stay set out in paragraph 2 of the PD.

The PD ceases to have effect on 30th October 2020.

The full PD says:

1. This practice direction is made under rule 51.2 of the Civil Procedure Rules (“CPR”). It is intended to assess modifications to the rules and Practice Directions that may be necessary during the Coronavirus pandemic and the need to ensure that the administration of justice, including the enforcement of orders, is carried out so as not to endanger public health. As such it makes provision to stay proceedings for, and to enforce, possession. It ceases to have effect on 30 October 2020.

2. All proceedings for possession brought under CPR Part 55 and all proceedings seeking to enforce an order for possession by a warrant or writ of possession are stayed for a period of 90 days from the date this Direction comes into force.

3. For the avoidance of doubt, claims for injunctive relief are not subject to the stay in paragraph 2.


Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.


  1. Ben Reeve-Lewis

    The only designated priority county court for London is Romford?

  2. Emma Wall

    Presumably possession proceedings can be issued but are then stayed? There was some talk about a preaction protocol applying to all landlords including private landlords relating to notices/possession proceedings – whatever happened to that? Is it in force and where can it be found?

    • Giles Peaker

      Yes, issued then stayed. Protocol is being developed.

  3. Paul

    Am I reading this wrong or does it mean squatters also can’t get evicted?

    • Giles Peaker

      Possession claims against trespassers are Part 55 so would be stayed. But can still go for injunctive relief.

  4. C

    Does this extend to warrant suspension applications?

  5. Mike

    Where possession orders have already been obtained and order possession, say today, does sending them to the court bailiff count as “possession proceedings”? I would have thought it does, therefore stayed until at least June 24th.

  6. Joanne

    I have been out of the loop for a few days and am currently catching up, so please forgive me if I am asking a question that has already been dealt with. I am aware that with effect from 26 March, landlords must give three months notice before possession proceedings can be issued on grounds of rent arrears. Can I please ask whether notices served prior to the 26 March, giving 28 days, still remain valid? If so, whilst all proceedings are to be stayed for a period of 90 days, can I still submit them for issue? They will at least be in the system ready to take their place in the queue, when such possession hearings resume.

    • Giles Peaker

      Yes, notices pre 26 March remain valid. Claims can be issued but will not proceed. (or such is my understanding of the legislation and PD.)

      • Sarah Beal (@SarahEBeal)

        I don’t think cases can be issued as I had one returned to me from Southampton County Court with a covering letter saying claims cannot currently be issued

        • Giles Peaker

          I suspect that is an errant interpretation by the court office.

  7. Helen Tucker

    We all understand the rationale behind this in principle. But to leave Judges with no discretion and to make no exceptions to the 3 months possession claim stay e.g. for trespassers or ASB cases is shortsighted in my view. With everyone staying at home the impact of one anti-social neighbour will be much greater. This is going to increase the numbers of ASB injunction applications. When it comes to enforcing powers of arrest, will the police have the resource or will this be a priority? How easy will it be for the court to deal with a socially distanced committal hearing within 24 hours of arrest that is not listed and therefore not prepared for?. If it is too difficult to get a prisoner to a court that is open as the local one is not, then what do the police do? We are giving courts we work in regularly the heads up that we have injunctions pending (residents who are still having multiple visitors as a result of suspected drug dealing; spitting at staff, violence and threats of violence to staff and neighbours etc) but the committal hearing after a power of arrest is exercised will be much harder for the courts to manage than exercising their discretion on ASB possession cases would be…..

  8. Sarah Beal (@SarahEBeal)

    Does anyone know whether we are still required to comply with existing case management directions or whether these are also stayed. There is very little guidance out there

    • Giles Peaker

      If it is a possession claim, I think it is stayed at its current stage. It would be helpful if the court would service notices for each case. If it is not a possession claim, it continues as usual.

  9. Ozzy

    Hi Everyone and dear Giles, thank you very much for all your help and guidance through this pandemic. May I ask a question, say for example a landlord didn’t listen to any advice and ended up illegally evicting the tenant. Who would be the enforcing body as I myself work for LA in London

    • Giles Peaker

      The Local Authority would. A civil claim could also be brought by the tenant

  10. Ben Reeve-Lewis

    Ozzy all the usual is in place, including Rent Repayment Orders but the trouble is, all of these remedies are long term, they are necessarily persuasive in an argument and certainly not immediate enough in their effect to deter landlords from illegal eviction. unless there is some joined up working between LAs, police and judiciary to create a linked up initiative in the current climate, most of us can only try and blag it and then stand back when our bluff is called and watch the tenants chucked out, only to have the homelessness unit pick up the pieces.

  11. Ozzy

    Ben I totally agree, that is what my worry was. We can only blag and try our best. So far with that I have stopped 2 tenants being evicted but if I am being fair, there is not much we can do as you say. We need more sharp,short and clear powers where it will be effective pretty fast…

  12. Jen

    Does this extend to those in temporary accommodation with licences?

    • Giles Peaker

      Yes if possession proceedings are required. (So in s.192 accommodation after a s.184 decision)

  13. duncan wells

    Hi, if a possession order was applied for N2B England before 27 March and paperwork issued to both claimant and defendant can an order still be obtained? and just not enforced?

    • Giles Peaker

      No, the claim is stayed at the point it had reached on 26 March. (Save for any application to stay eviction)

  14. Wendy

    So what is the position on the lifespan of s21 notices. Landlords have 6 months from the date of the notice to issue proceedings, I presume the clock stops on this?

    • Giles Peaker

      No, the six month limit continues. The stay has no effect on the valid period for s.21 notices. The stay does not prevent possession proceedings being issued, just that they won’t progress after issue.

  15. lucy tagoe

    HI, does the stay applies to excluded licences?

    • Giles Peaker

      No, as no possession proceedings required.


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