High Court Upholds Stringent Compliance Rules in Santander PLC v Anthony Harris Case

Citation: [2024] EWHC 351 (KB)
Judgment on


In the case of Santander PLC v Anthony Harris, the High Court of Justice was called upon to deliberate on an application for an extension of time to lodge an appeal and related matters. The case presents various legal principles involving compliance with procedural rules, the treatment of litigants in person, and the process for applying for extensions of time in the context of appeals.

Key Facts

Anthony Harris, the appellant, sought to set aside or vary an order that refused his request for an extension of time to lodge an appeal against a County Court ruling. His initial application was denied by Sir Stephen Stewart, and Mr. Harris subsequentially applied to the High Court for reconsideration. Mr. Justice Cotter presided over the case, ultimately determining not to grant the extension sought by Harris.

Mr. Harris had been involved in prolonged litigation regarding property lease agreements and mortgage arrears. He contended that new evidence related to other legal proceedings involving management companies would have altered his defensive stance and was also the basis for his delayed appeal. However, it was revealed that this evidence had been available to him prior to passing the judgment. Harris faced various challenges, including health issues and the pressure of concurrent lawsuits but ultimately prioritized other litigation matters over pursuing an appeal in this case.

The court applied a “three-stage test” for extending time periods for appeals from the Denton case (Denton v TH White Ltd [2014] EWCA Civ 906), which was confirmed to be applicable to litigants in person in the case of Lakatamia Shipping Co Ltd v Su ([2019] EWCA Civ 1626). This structured approach involves evaluating the seriousness and significance of the breach, the reasons for the default, and considering all circumstances of the case.

In Hysaj v Secretary of State for the Home Department ([2014] EWCA Civ 1633), the court clarified the approach to extension applications, equating them to applications for relief from sanctions and emphasizing the need for efficient litigation and compliance with rules and orders. It was acknowledged that litigants in person must comply with the same rules as legally represented parties.


Justice Cotter concluded that Harris’s 14-month delay in filing an appeal constituted a serious and significant breach of the appeal filing deadline. The reasons for delay did not justify or mitigate the breach, as Harris actively engaged in other litigation during that period. The evidence he claimed as new had been available to him at the relevant time, and his health and other personal circumstances were not sufficient excuse for the delay; arguably, they did not prevent him from engaging in his other legal disputes.

Moreover, despite Harris’s claims of fraud involving the third parties, no steps had been taken to challenge the judgments against him based on this alleged fraud. As a result, the original judgments remain valid. The court found that the potential grounds for appeal did not present a clear and obvious merit that would have justified an extension of time.

An informal request by Harris for a stay of enforcement on the existing judgment was deemed inappropriate for the current court to grant, as no details of corresponding appeals or judgments were provided. This request would more appropriately be directed to the County Court concerned with enforcement.


The Santander PLC v Anthony Harris case demonstrates the High Court’s rigidity regarding compliance with procedural rules, even when a litigant in person faces personal difficulties. The court reinforced the principle that an extension of time for filing an appeal is not to be granted lightly and must be justifiable under the stringent criteria established by precedent. The court’s adherence to ensuring that litigation is conducted efficiently and at proportionate cost, and its emphasis on enforcing compliance with rules, were pivotal in denying Mr. Harris’s application for an extension of time to appeal.