Claim fails following failure to serve at proper address
In Jagger (& others) v. Axa Insurance plc the Court rejected the Claimant’s argument that service on the Defendant company’s former registered office address was good service and also refused the Claimant’s application an order that service was “good” or for an extension of time for service, which resulted in the claim failing.
What are the rules?
Rule 6.9 of the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR), dictates how a claim form should be served where a defendant does not given an address for service. Where a defendant is a company registered in England and Wales, the place for service will be the “principal office of the company; or any place of business of the company within the jurisdiction which has a real connection with the claim.”
What happened in Jagger?
Service of the claim form and particulars of claim, had to be effected by 2 December 2022, the claim having been issued on 2 August 2022.
The Claimant’s solicitors arranged for service of the claim, on 1 December 2022, at an address which had not been the Defendant’s registered office address for over a year. Crucially, the Defendant did not have an office space at the address (where the claim was served) at the time of purported service. The Claimant’s case management software had details of the Defendant’s old registered office due to that address being listed on a public liability insurance policy upon which the Claimant was relying. When service letters were generated by the Claimant’s solicitor, the case handler failed to identify whether the address at which they were attempting to serve the claim was still an appropriate address for service in accordance with CPR 6.9.
The Claimant’s solicitors, whilst accepting that the address at which the claim was purportedly served was not the Defendant’s principal office, argued that the service address had a real connection to the claim as the address appeared on the public liability insurance policy.
The court found that the old registered office address was not a place of business of the Company at the time the claim was purportedly served and therefore service was not validly effected. The court also found that to satisfy the test of “having a real connection to the claim” , the address at which service is effected should also be a place of business of the company. As the old registered office was not the Defendant’s place of business, the court did not have to consider whether the address had a real connection to the claim.
Following on from the court’s decision, as the claim had not been validly served within four months of issue, the claim would not have been able to proceed without further order from the court.
The Claimant made an application, on 20 April 2023, for an order, pursuant to CPR 6.15(2) that service of the claim was good service on the basis that steps had been taken to bring the claim to the Defendant’s attention at an alternative place. The court refused to make such an order and stated that “given that there is no evidence of any good reason why the claim form was not validly served on time and further there is no evidence that the Defendant was aware of the contents of the claim form at the time it expired, I do not deem the service of the claim form to have been good service on 2 December 2022. The claim form has therefore expired in this case, without being served.”
The Claimant had, as an alternative, sought an order for an extension of time to serve the claim under CPR 7.6(3). This too was rejected by the court on the basis that the application had not been made promptly and the Claimant had not taken all reasonable steps to comply with the service requirements dictated by the CPR.
Whilst only a county court decision, this case highlights the robust approach courts can take to failures by parties (and their solicitors) to comply with basic requirements of the CPR and the importance of ensuring that deadlines are met in good time and checks as to current addresses for parties are undertaken on a regular basis.
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Articles are intended as an introduction to the topic and do not constitute legal advice.