It has been exactly four months since Denton v TH White Ltd  EWCA Civ 906,  C.P. Rep. 40 hit the legal printing presses, and what a difference a quarter of a year makes.
There have been a cluster of recent cases in which the less draconian approach adopted post-Denton can be seen at play.
In Altomart Ltd – v – Salford Estates (No.2) Ltd  EWCA Civ 1408 the Court of Appeal considered the approach to be adopted to applications for extensions of time under CPR 3.1, and specifically in the instant case, as to an extension of time for filing a respondent’s notice. Whilst such an application was not an application for relief, an application to appeal out of time was analogous to such an application and fell to be considered under the same principles in CPR 3.9.
Despite the respondent’s notice being 36 days late, a delay acknowledged as ‘considerable’, in circumstances where it was unlikely that the delay itself would have any impact upon the proceedings, it could not be characterised as serious or significant in the Denton sense. As such, the Court’s indulgence was successfully preyed upon and relief granted.
Whilst not an application for relief but defence of an application for strike out following failure to pay court fees, file a pre-trial checklist or prepare trial bundles, we would suggest the effects of Denton can be seen at work in Abdulle & 2 Ors – v – Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis (2014) QBD (Hickinbottom J) 30/10/2014 in which, despite the repeated omissions and the ‘real criticism’ the Court thought could be properly levelled at the Claimant’s solicitors, the Court declined to strike out the claim on the basis that it was all but ready for trial, and allowed the claim to continue, subject to a stay to allow the remaining steps to be taken and the court fee to be paid, and provision for automatic strike out in the event of further non-compliance.
One can well imagine that in a world without Denton, the outcome may well have been different.