Service of the claim form is an issue that continues to cause problems. There is a brief report on Lawtel today of the decision of Stewart J in Dzekova -v- Thomas Eggar PPL (QBD 17/07/2015)*. It is another example of a claimant coming to grief.
The claimant issued a claim form against a firm of solicitors. Shortly before the expiry date the claimant’s solicitor telephoned the firm to find out the address for service as the firm had more than one office. He spoke to the managing partner’s personal assistant and, since she was told that the matter was confidential, she gave the managing partner’s address. The master held that the personal assistant had ostensible authority to bind the firm. The defendant appealed.
HELD ON APPEAL: THIS WAS NOT GOOD SERVICE
The personal assistant had not understood the issues that were addressed to her. No-one at the defendant firm had represented that the assistant had authority in relation to service. The fact she had authority in relation to confidential documents was not sufficient. The appeal was allowed. Service of the claim form failed.
[There is only a short summary available at present. It is not clear whether it was important that the defendant was telephoned in their capacity as defendant and not as a solicitor. There may have been a different outcome if a member of solicitor’s staff nominated an address for service on behalf of a client.)
COMMENT: THE UNEXPLODED BOMB IN YOUR FILING CABINET
It has been said, on more than one occasion, on this blog that an unserved claim form is basically an unexploded grenade in your filing cabinet. Here was have several of the elements that normally need to problems.
- Leaving service until shortly before the expiry date (so a telephone call had to be made).
- Lack of familiarity with the rules relating to service.
OTHER POSTS ON THIS BLOG THAT RELATE TO SERVICE
- Another mis-served claim form: claimants do not pass go and do not get to the bank.
- There are now unexploded grenades in your filing cabinet: service proceedings promptly and properly.
- Service of the Claim Form: What can possibly go wrong? Ten simple points to make life easier.
- Service of the Claim Form: Further traps for the Unwary
- Late Service of the Claim Form, extensions of time and sleepless nights
- Service of the Claim Form: “last known address” points to watch
- Service of the Claim Form: Essential Points before the Essential Checklist
- A Dismal Catalogue of Confusion and Error
- Delaying Service of the Claim Form: Dicing with Procedural Death
- Service of the Claim form: Another claimant comes to grief
- Service of the Claim Form and a good reason: And so to Bed
- Service of the Claim Form can be a problem for defendants too.
- Claim Forms: Declaration that steps taken constitute good service.
- Late service of the claim form: extension refused.
* This post is based on the Lawtel summary.