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Cranfield v Bridgegrove Limited; Claussen v Yeates; McManus v Sharif; Murphy v Staples UK Limited; Smith v Hughes, Court of Appeal, 14 May 2003

20 May 2003
The issues

Service – extension of time for serving Claim Form – service on Solicitors – service by Court – failure to serve – service on Insurers.

The facts

These 5 cases were heard together, since they all raised issues with regard to CPR 6.9 (The Power of the Court to Dispense with Service) and CPR 7.6 (The Power of the Court to extend time for serving the Claim Form).

Cranfield -v- Bridgegrove Limited

The County Court were requested to serve the Defendant. The Court failed to do so by mistake. The County Court Judge granted an extension of time for service, finding that the Court had been “unable” to serve (CPR 7.6 (iii)).

The Defendant Appealed.

Claussen -v- Yeates

The Claimant asked the Court to serve the Defendant. Again, the Court by mistake failed to do so. The County Court Judge refused an extension of time, holding that it was not the case that the Court had been “unable” to serve within CPR 7.6 (iii).

The Claimant Appealed.

McManus -v- Sharif

The Claimant’s Solicitor sent a draft Claim Form to the Defendant’s Insurers “by way of service”. The Claim Form and Particulars should have been served on the Defendant personally. The County Court Judge exercised his discretion to dispense with service under CPR 6.9.

The Defendant appealed.

Murphy -v- Staples UK Limited

The Claimant’s Solicitors served Defendant Company at its registered office. They had been told that Solicitors were instructed to accept service. The County Court Judge dispensed with service under CPR 6.9.

The Defendant appealed.

Smith -v- Hughes

The Claimant’s Solicitors served on the First Defendant’s last known address. The MIB had 2 years before told Claimant’s Solicitors that the Defendant had left that address. The District Judge held that the First Defendant had not been properly served.

The Claimant appealed.

The decision

Cranfield -v- Bridgegrove Limited

The Judge construed CPR 7.6 (iii)(a) correctly. The Defendants had argued that the real cause of the problem was the assumption on the part of the Claimant’s Solicitors that the Court would have served the Claim Form, even though they did not receive notice from the Court. However, the Defendant was given permission to appeal only on the point of construction and not on the Judge’s exercise of discretion. However, in any event, there was no basis on which the exercise of discretion could have been challenged. This was a case where the real cause of the failure to serve in time was the Court’s neglect.

Appeal dismissed.

Claussen -v- Yates

The Judge had misinterpreted CPR 7.6 (iii)(a). It was open for him to extend the time for service if he considered that Court neglect was the real cause of the failure to serve the Claim Form in time and that applying the overriding objective, an extension of time was appropriate in all the circumstances. Since the Judge did not exercise his discretion, the Court of Appeal would do so in his place.

The Claimant’s Solicitors had been at fault. The real reason why the Claim Form was not served in time was the fact that the Claimant’s Solicitors had not notified the Court in time that the Defendant’s Solicitors were willing to accept service and that they wrote to the Court asking them to serve the Defendant “in due course” without impressing on the Court the urgency of the situation which had been entirely of their own making. In these circumstances, it would be inappropriate to exercise the discretion.

Appeal dismissed.

McManus -v- Sharif

The Judge should not have made an Order under Order CPR 6.9 in this case. He did not pay sufficient regard to the fact that even in Category 2 cases (see Anderton -v- Clwyd) the discretion should be exercised only in exceptional circumstances. But in any event, this case fell outside the scope of Anderton in a number of respects. First, what was served was not the Claim Form, but a draft Claim Form. It was not stamped with the Court seal and did not contain a statement of truth. Secondly, the draft Claim Form was not sent to the Defendant or a Solicitor authorised to accept service as permitted by CPR 6.4. The Defendant’s Insurers had not authority to accept service on behalf of the Defendant. The Insurers could not be described as the Defendant’s Legal Adviser, even in situations where no Solicitor had been appointed to act on his behalf. Thirdly, the draft Claim Form was not sent to an address given for service in accordance with CPR 6.5.

Appeal allowed.

Murphy -v- Staples UK Limited

Service on the Company’s registered office by 1st class post was good service. A Claimant could serve a Claim Form on a Defendant Company, either by leaving it at the Company’s registered office or by serving it in accordance with one of the methods permitted by the CPR. If a Defendant had not given an address for service, a Claimant could choose whether to follow the CPR route or to serve it at the registered office. In Nanglegan, a Defendant could require service upon the Solicitor where a Defendant had elected to nominate his Solicitor to accept service. However, Nanglegan was not a case where the service provisions of Section 725(i) of the 1985 Company’s Act applied.

It would be possible for the parties to make a binding contract whereby a Claimant agreed to serve the Claim Form by the CPR route rather than under Section 725 (or vice versa) but the effect of the letters on this occasion was not to bind the Claimant or to deny him the option of serving under the Company’s Act. Service was therefore good service.

Appeal dismissed.

Smith -v- Hughes and the MIB

CPR 6.5(vi) was clear. Where no Solicitor was acting for the party to be served and the party had not given an address for service (as was the case here) then the document that had to be served at the place shown in the table, namely in this case his usual or last known address. There was no qualification as to either knowledge or actual receipt. To add in any such qualification would be to fly in the face of the clear words of the rule. There had been no dispute that the address, which the papers had been sent to, was not the Defendant’s last known residence. There was therefore good service.

Appeal allowed.

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