Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 4) (Coronavirus) Rules 2020 - Motion for an humble Address

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:44 pm on 23rd September 2020.

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Photo of Lord Taylor of Holbeach Lord Taylor of Holbeach Conservative 1:44 pm, 23rd September 2020

My Lords, I am pleased to follow the noble Lords proposing the two motions before the House. The noble Baroness, Lady Grender, is an experienced Member of this House. I expect she fully understands that her proposition to annul these measures is contrary to the practice and conventions of this House. Such a proposition, if successful, will be greatly to the disadvantage of the House. I hope she reconsiders the matter and withdraws her Motion.

I will address the regret Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby. I think he is wrong. In the light of the pandemic, I can understand the anxiety of noble Lords about this matter, but if we agree with the view that the justice process is not just about the resolution of difficult matters but also about fairness, we need to get the courts hearing cases again. Justice and fairness, to both landlord and tenant, cannot be put on hold just because of the pandemic, particularly as the Government have introduced measures to assist fairness and justice following the working group convened by the Master of the Rolls. There has been reference to yesterday’s letter from the Minister, Alex Chalk; it makes the measures in the practice direction clear. The prioritisation of cases will focus on anti-social behaviour, extreme rent arrears, domestic abuse, fraud and deception, illegal occupation and squatters, and abandonment of a property. I think noble Lords will agree that these cases are not just about parties to the dispute, but often about the rights and distress of neighbours.