Court of Appeal considers Denton (again)

The Court of Appeal reiterates that significant factors are required for relief from sanctions to be granted where a breach of an order results in a hearing being lost.

In the matter of Motley & Others v Shadwell Park Ltd, the Court of Appeal (Sharp LJ and Henderson LJ) considered whether Mr Justice Soole acted outside the ambit of his reasonable discretion in granting Shadwell Park Ltd relief from sanction following its failure to submit an appeal bundle and skeleton argument in breach of paragraph 6.3 of Practice Direction 52B and a subsequent unless order that resulted in the appeal being struck out and a 3 hour appeal hearing being lost In granting relief Mr Justice Soole found that the loss of the hearing was not as serious as a loss of a trial date.

In allowing the appeal the Court of Appeal accepted that Mr Justice Soole had correctly considered the three stage process as set down in Denton v TH White Ltd but that in circumstances where there had been a breach for no reason and an appeal hearing had been lost, very significant factors were required to tip the scales in favour of granting relief. None of the factors that the Judge had identified fell into that category. The Court of Appeal made clear that although the loss of a half-day hearing might not be as serious as losing a trial date, it was still serious because it impacted upon other court users and was a significant factor which weighed against the granting of relief.

James Newman was instructed by Edward Miller from Karam, Missick & Traube LLP for the Respondent.