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service of a claim form – take care when serving at the 'last known address'

23 May 2014

In Norcross v Constantine the court held that service of a claim form at a defendant’s last known address was not good service under CPR r.6.9 where the claimants had reason to believe the defendant no longer lived there.

This case concerned an application to set aside a judgment obtained in default of an acknowledgment of service. The claim form was served at the defendant’s last known address under CPR r6.9(2). However, the claimants had previously been told that the defendant had moved and had been out of the jurisdiction since 2009. Therefore, an application was made to set aside judgment because service was defective.

The application was granted as it was clear from the evidence that the claimants had reason to believe that the defendant no longer resided at the address under r6.9(3). The test was objective and the claimants could not simply ignore that information. As they had failed to take the reasonable steps required by r.6.9(3), service was defective and the default judgment was set aside.

This case highlights the need to consider all information when ascertaining the ‘last known address’ in order to serve court documents.

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