Permission to serve out required before alternative service order can be made

Marashen Ltd v Kenvett Ltd [2017] EWHC 1706 (Ch) (06 July 2017)

Foxton QC in the Chancery Division overturned an earlier order permitting service of third party costs order on a person resident in Russia by means of alternative service on his lawyers’ offices in London, on the basis that there was no pre-existing order for permission to serve out. A court must have already given permission to serve out of the jurisdiction, before the power to permit alternative service (under CPR 6.15) arises. Pre-existing permission to serve out must exist even for alternative service within the jurisdiction. The power to make alternative service within England and Wales on a defendant resident outside the jurisdiction derives from CPR 6.37(5)(b)(i). In Hague Service Convention cases, there must be “exceptional circumstances” to grant an order for alternative service, outside the terms of the Convention.

Exceptional circumstances is a test going beyond mere good reason. Mere delay or additional expense did not constitute exceptional circumstances. Article 15 of the Hague Service Convention itself offers comfort to a claimant in the case of excessive delay in that, in the event of a delay exceeding 6 months, this article would allow the claimant to continue on with proceedings despite a lack of formal confirmation of service.

Strict approach to the retrospective cure under CPR 6.15 of defective service

The court’s power in CPR 6.15 to allow service by an alternative means can be used retrospectively to validate steps taken to serve proceedings on foreign defendants where those steps fall short of ‘good service’ under the CPR.  The power is of particular significance in common law (rather than Brussels / Lugano cases) because the act of service founds jurisdiction.

This post considers two recent cases on CPR 6.15: Barton v Wright Hassall LLP [2016] EWCA Civ 177 and Abbott v Econowall UK Ltd [2016] EWHC 660 (IPEC).  They demonstrate that the court will adopt a strict approach to retrospective cure of defective service although a defendant’s conduct may form part of the reason to permit cure. Continue reading