Most times, hearing dates a fixed by the court without consulting the parties. This can cause problems if the date is inconvenient for any reason. So, can the date be changed?
The answer is not a simple one as it depends on the reason for seeking the adjournment. Adjournment can be granted only in exceptional circumstances. What is ‘exceptional’ is assessed on a case by case basis and there is no rigid formula adopted.
Generally, adjournments will not be granted as a result of prior work commitments or childcare. The court takes the view that hearing date should be prioritised by parties and such other dates should be adjusted to accommodate hearing dates.
The Court would consider medical appointments (such as an appointment at the hospital or with a Consultant) if these cannot be changed, or pre-booked holidays, as good reasons to move the Hearing but only if evidence of the appointment or holiday can be provided which shows that these existed prior to the Court sending out the Hearing date.
The easiest way to get an adjournment is to try to agree with the other party to adjourn to a new date. If this is achieved, parties will contact the court jointly to seek for the date to be moved. This will still need to be considered by a Judge who can agree or refuse to adjourn. However, in most cases, the court will adjourn on the request of both parties.
If the other party does not consent to the adjournment, you will have to write to the court setting out in full your reasons for seeking an adjournment. You may need to make a formal application and pay fees to be able to do this.
The other party should be provided with a copy of this letter so that they are aware of your request and can object if the wish to do so.
The Judge has a wide discretion and may agree or may still feel that the hearing should go ahead.
You will need to attend if your request if not granted otherwise, the hearing may be conducted in your absence.