In the case of Bovale v SSCLG  EWHC 2143 (Admin) Mr Justice Collins, the Lead Judge of the Administrative Court, has indicated that defendants in claims under s. 287 and 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (and also s. 113 of the Planning & Compulsory Purchase Act 2004) ought to think in terms of serving both evidence and grounds for resistance, however short, within a period of 10 weeks from service of the claim.
Furthermore he indicated that where the defendant chose not to put in any grounds for resisting and thus the grounds set out in the claim form represented the way in which the case was to be put by the claimant, it was for the defendant to put in the first skeleton argument.
Collins J. so held on an appeal by the Secretary of State against an order made by the deputy master, pursuant to an application made by the Claimant, to file and serve evidence and any grounds of resistance alternative or additional to those lodged voluntarily by the defendant local authority. The Claimant’s application may well have been a result of a communication from Collins J to PEBA – the Specialist Bar Association for Planning Environment and Local Government – that: “Claimants in T&CPA 1990 s. 287 and 288 claims should, in appropriate cases, apply in their Claim for Directions as to exchange of evidence and/or summary grounds of Defence so as to ensure that the ambit of the dispute is known in advance, so that full evidence is exchanged and so that Claimants are aware of the Defence in advance of filing Skeletons.”
Collins J. observed that the timescales set out in the practice direction and rules for service of evidence by defendants in s. 287 and 288 claims were far too short and that it was quite unrealistic to expect the Treasury Solicitor and planning authorities to take proper instructions within the time set out. An appropriate period for lodging evidence and grounds for resisting the claim would be 10 weeks, relying on his own decision in Dinedor Hill Action Association v Herefordshire DC (2008) EWHC 1741 (Admin), (2008) NPC 90.
David Blundell appeared for the Secretary of State before Collins J. on the appeal. James Maurici is instructed by the Secretary of State in the substantive s. 288 claim in Bovale.