An application is how you ask a court to do something or authorise something. An interim application is one made at any time after you start your claim and before the trial. You may need to make an interim application if you need to amend your claim, or rely on witness or expert evidence which has not already been authorised by the court, or if you want the court to make the other side do something, such as show you copies of documents which they are refusing to disclose.
Although an interim application may be necessary in some circumstances, the courts encourage parties to sort out interim problems without going back to the court to resolve them if you can. The high level of the current court fee also encourages parties to find alternative solutions.
The court fee for making most types of interim application is currently over £250 so it is better to avoid having to do this if you possibly can.
It’s fine to contact the other party or their solicitor (if they have one) outside of the court process. So, you should try informal pressure, for example, phoning or emailing them to explain what the problem is and your suggested solution. If you phone them, follow this up with a letter. Keep a record of every attempt you make to contact the other side in your efforts to resolve any interim problem. If you end up having to go to court the court will want to know this information.
If you or the other side can't comply with the timetable of the order for directions, for example you need more time to prepare your list or expert evidence, the best thing to do is to try to agree a change in the timetable between you, before the relevant deadline has passed. The parties are generally allowed to agree to extend deadlines for case management steps by up to 28 days, as long as this does not put at risk any hearing date. If you can do this, there is no need to apply for an interim order and you don’t need to tell the court about the new arrangement.
However, if you want to change the date for filing the pre-trial checklist, or you want a new trial date or trial window, you do have to apply to the court, even if you both agree.
There may be circumstances where applying for an interim order is unavoidable, for example, if you realise you have made a serious mistake in your claim form or particulars of claim. Even then, the other side may agree to the changes you want to make. If they do, you can apply for a consent order which will make things easier, because the court probably won’t need a hearing before they make a decision.
Applications by consent require a much smaller fee.
If you are thinking about applying to postpone the hearing date (trial), bear in mind that once a court has fixed a trial date, it prefers not to change it if at all possible as this is a waste of resources. So, the court may not agree to a postponement even if both of you want it. The court won’t allow a postponement because of a failure to comply with the order for directions, except in the most exceptional circumstances. If you apply to postpone, you will need to give very good reasons. 'I am scheduled to have an operation four weeks before trial and been told I will need six weeks bedrest’ (with a copy of the notification from the hospital attached) may get you a postponement. 'Not enough time to prepare' won't.
The only time there isn’t a fee for an interim application is when the claimant and the defendant agree to apply to the court to postpone the trial date and the court receives their consent application at least 14 days before the date of the hearing.