What does a claimant need to do to serve a claim form “during its period of validity”?

In Jones v Chichester Harbour Conservancy & Ors [2017] EWHC 2270 (QB) Master McCloud considered the issue of what a claimant needs to do in order to serve a claim form during its period of validity. The Claimant in Jones had brought a claim which, by reasons of limitation, had to be served by 1 November 2016. She applied for an extension of time; this was granted by Master Fontaine, by an order which stated that “[t]he date for service of the Claim Form is extended to 17th January 2017”. The claim form was emailed at 4.27pm on 17 January 2017, and a hard copy placed in the DX; the hard copy was received on 18 January. The Defendant had not accepted a willingness to accept service by email.

The Claimant pointed out that CPR r 7.5 simply requires the Claimant to “complete the step required [in the relevant table] before 12.00 midnight on the calendar day four months after the issue of the claim form.” This “relevant step”, for DX and/or first class post, was “[p]osting, leaving with, delivering to or collection by the relevant service provider”.

The Defendant’s argument was that the Order of Master Fontaine said nothing about CPR r 7.5; the effect of the Order was to require that the claim form be served by 17 January; CPR r 6.14 provides for “deemed service”, which is the second business day after completion of the “relevant step”. So for service on 17 January, the document would need ot be placed in the DX by midnight on 13 January.

The judgment itself contains a helpful review of the authorities in this area; the Court takes a purposive approach, and then finds as follows at [38]:

    1. In my judgment:

(1) the correct approach when determining whether, for the purpose of answering the question “was the claim form served during its period of validity?” is to ascertain whether the Claimant has carried out the step required by rule 7.5 within the time provided for doing so. That would apply equally to cases where time for service has been extended by order (as here) and to cases where the basic 4 or 6 month period of validity applies; and

(2) as to the purpose of the ‘deemed date’ provisions in rule 6.14 those have to be given an interpretation which gives them a meaningful function and in my judgment the deeming provisions operate as a means to ensure that it is clear to the parties what date is to be used for the purpose of calculating such things as the date for service of acknowledgement of service or defence.

. . . . and that, I think, is a helpful clarification. What a Claimant needs to do, within the four-month validity period, is to take the “relevant step”. The issue of “deemed service” is a separate issue, and is relevant to calculating dates which come after service of the claim form.

Author: Ezra Macdonald

I'm a barrister practising from Pump Court Chambers in London (although we have annexes in Wiltshire and Hampshire and I work throughout England & Wales). I mainly do a combination of employment, commercial, and property law (both residential and commercial). I also do some personal injury work, which these days consists mostly of fast track trials. I have a strong-to-moderate academic interest in the law, and I'm always happy to be contacted for discussion or advice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *