Andrew Mitchell MP v Newsgroup Newspapers Ltd [2013] EWCK Civ 1537

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By Geoffrey Gauci

The Court of Appeal has now spoken authoritatively about the way in which it will deal with those who fail to comply with either procedural directions, practice orders or with the rules of civil procedure. What is clear, however, is that we have now entered a new era in the way in which litigation is to be conducted, which will require strict observance and compliance with all time limits or rules of court, failing which there is a serious risk of draconian consequences being imposed.

This is the finding of the Court of Appeal in the ‘Plebgate’ affair, which has received wide coverage in the media following the report in The Sun newspaper relating to Mr Mitchell MP, the then chief whip of the Conservative Party, who had raged against police officers at the entrance to Downing Street. This was an appeal from a master’s decision relating to the recently introduced rules for costs budgeting in civil litigation and for failure to grant relief from sanctions under CPR 3.9. The appellant, Mr Mitchell MP, had failed to file his cost budget in time in accordance with the new practice rules and the question at heart of the appeal was how strictly should the court now enforce compliance with rules, practice directions and court orders? …

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