On week 2 of lockdown, time is a big issue. Some of us (my children) may have too much time on our hands, while others are frantically busy.
For clients trying to navigate planning or complete transactions, time periods can be critically important.
This week I was asked whether statutory judicial review periods might be extended due to the virus, exposing developers and purchasers to greater uncertainty or risk under suspensive contracts. In fact, the existing provisions already allow the court to accept "late" JR challenges beyond the standard 3 month period where equitable in all the circumstances.
But it seems unlikely that the court would be easily persuaded to do so solely on the basis of the current circumstances when papers may be submitted to the court electronically with relative ease, and special arrangements have been made by the court to receive "time bar" cases. In these circumstances, 3 months still seems plenty of time in most scenarios.
The same might not be the case for planning appeals however, particularly those which were nearing the end of the 3 month period when lockdown measures were introduced, and we are still waiting to hear if this might be tackled formally in legislation. This would be done by way of Regulations and so it doesn't form part of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill published yesterday.
The Bill does however address extensions of time for planning permissions (detailed and PPP) which might otherwise be at risk of expiry due to current circumstances. If enacted, the Bill will extend the life of such permissions by 12 months from the date the relevant provisions are brought into force, but only where a permission would otherwise expire within 6 months of that date.