The 3-stage approach to an application for relief from sanctions was re-confirmed in the context of a possession claim by a social housing provider whose claim had been dismissed due to non-attendance at a directions hearing.
The lower Court’s Order was not entirely clear as to the purpose of the hearing, which was intended to be linked to Children Act 1989 proceedings. In granting relief, the HHJ Lochrane had considered in particular the lack of clarity in the Court Order, the impact of dismissal on the tenant’s neighbours who had complained of nuisance and the lack of prejudice to the tenant whose Children Act proceedings had benefited from the dismissal of the possession claim.
On the tenant’s appeal against the Judge’s reinstatement of the landlord’s claim for possession, Mr Justice Sweeney in the High Court held that the Judge was entitled to grant relief for the reasons he had considered.
This case joins the stream of recent cases on the application of the guidance inMitchell v News Group Newspapers Ltd  EWCA Civ 1537 as moderated byDenton v TH White Ltd and ors  EWCA Civ 906. Interestingly, this appeal was heard before judgment in R (on the application of) Hysaj v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 1633, where extensive additional guidance on relief from sanctions was given (at paras 39-49), which practitioners should bear in mind. (Hat tip to the Civil Litigation Brief blog fortheir handy summary of Hysaj).
However, it appears unlikely that any of the further principles that Hysaj grafts onto Mitchell and Denton would have materially altered the outcome here.