It is an acknowledged fact of modern court life that circuit judges are not always appointed to the local county court. HHJ Mitchell has sought to address this issue in the context of appeals against the refusal of an application to suspend a warrant for possession.
On 8 July 2013 the Designated Civil Judge for London County Courts, HHJ Mitchell, issued “guidance for litigants seeking to appeal the refusal to suspend a warrant by a district judge when no circuit judge is available at that court”. This is very timely given the increasing number of courts where there is no circuit judge (for example, Lambeth County Court have had no circuit judge since HHJ Blunsdon’s retirement earlier this year).
The solution offered is as follows:
“In the event that a circuit judge is not available at a particular court, arrangements have been put in place to ensure litigants have access to a circuit judge for the purposes of appealing the refusal to suspend a warrant of possession. If you wish to appeal from the particular court where the District Judge has refused to suspend the warrant of possession the court staff will inform you to which court you should address your appeal. The court where the application to suspend was heard on occasions would take the notice of appeal from the appellant. This practice will cease forthwith.
The appellant will be directed to the appropriate court where the appeal will be heard and he must file the notice of appeal at that court and not at the court where the original application to suspend the warrant was heard. This is entirely in accordance with the rules whereas the previous practice was not. CPR 52.3(2) (b) provides that an application for permission to appeal may be made ‘to the appeal court in an appeal notice’. CPR 52.1(3)(b) defines appeal court as ‘the court to which an appeal is made’. The reality of the situation is the onus is on the appellant to act promptly and make his application to suspend in sufficient time to enable an appeal to be lodged if necessary. Appellants should be aware that until the notice is received at the appeal court no attempt will be made to contact the bailiff to request that he does not enforce the warrant until an appeal has been heard.”
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