Unless orders
Unless orders

The following Dispute Resolution guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Unless orders
  • What is an ‘unless order’?
  • Guidelines on issuing unless orders
  • Provisions in the unless order
  • Challenging unless orders
  • Failure to comply with an unless order
  • Privilege
  • Practical considerations
  • Court specific guidance

This Practice Note provides guidance on the interpretation and application of the relevant provisions of the CPR. Depending on the court in which your matter is proceeding, you may also need to be mindful of additional provisions—see further below.

What is an ‘unless order’?

As part of its general case management powers, the court can order that a party's claim will be struck out 'unless' they comply with a court order by a given date. The strike out occurs automatically if the unless order is not complied with. It is therefore a powerful sanction against a party and is often only therefore granted as a last resort following a history of failure to comply with other orders, but this is not a requirement and the court may impose an unless order without there having been a prior breach (Devoy-Williams v Cartwright—see News Analysis: Failure of claimants to comply with an unless order as to disclosure justified a strike out—relief from sanctions denied (Devoy-Williams v Hugh Cartwright)).

In Christie v Magnet, the Court of Appeal referred to Lewison LJ's observations that:

‘The purpose of an unless order is to provide for the striking out of a claim unless it is complied with. If relief against sanctions were to be granted simply because the particular opponent had not suffered prejudice as a result of