SERVICE OF THE CLAIM FORM – FURTHER PROBLEMS: YOU CANNOT ALWAYS RELY ON WHAT YOU ARE TOLD

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 ISSUES

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

bomb-147841_640

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

* This post is based on the Lawtel summary.

One comment

  1. baser akoodie · · Reply

    i think the claimant solicitor made a mistake and should have served on the defendant solicitors place of business or address on their website etc. Surely this could be regarded as a potential professional negligence case. My view is that the judge at the queens Bench Division made the correct decision.

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