The High Court has ruled that it has the power under CPR 3.1(2)(m) to permit the amendment of an application before it is decided. CPR 3.1(2)(m) provides in part that the court may “take any step or make any other order for the purpose of managing the case and furthering the overriding objective”.
The point arose in the context of the hearing of the claimant’s summary judgment application in relation to the defendant’s counterclaim, during which Master Matthews provided a ruling on the scope of the application. In response, the claimant applied to amend the application to add further grounds.
The defendant argued that applications to the court could not be amended, and that any application to amend would, in fact, amount to a further, free-standing application. This point was important because any new application would have been caught by a stay.
The master considered that neither CPR 23 nor CPR 24, which deal with applications and summary judgment, provide for amendments to applications. CPR 17 (amendments to statements of case) does not apply to application notices.
However, the broad scope of the power conferred by CPR 3.1(2)(m) enabled the consideration of amendments to the claimant’s application. Deciding questions about summary judgment is part of the court’s case management, and it may further the overriding objective to enable all summary judgment issues to be dealt with together.
Having decided that he did have the power to do so, the master nonetheless declined to exercise his discretion to permit the amendments sought, given that they had been raised late, would compromise a scheduled hearing, and in the light of the claimant’s right to issue a fresh application in the future.
Although amendments to statements of case are commonly ruled upon, this judgment deals with an important and apparently novel point of practice.