Most Read Contributor in Australia, September 2016
A recent Queensland Supreme Court case has held that uploading
files to an electronic file uploading facility such as Dropbox and
providing a link to another party does not constitute service of
those documents on the other party. The result would be the same
where parties use a web-based third party hosted document or
project management system such as Project Centre or Aconex.
Parties should, if they intend to serve each other with
documents in electronic form, including via email and web-based
systems, make express provision in their contract for the
particular method of service.
In Conveyor & General Engineering Pty Ltd v Basetec
Services Pty Ltd  QSC 30, Basetec Services Pty Ltd
(Basetec) was a supplier of pre-assembled pipe rack units to
Conveyor & General Engineering Pty Ltd (CGE) for the
construction of water treatment facilities in Queensland.
On 30 July 2013 Basetec delivered a payment claim to CGE under
s17 of BCIPA in the amount of $403,680.20. On 12 August 2013 the
solicitors for CGE provided a payment schedule in response,
disputing the entirety of the payment claim.
On 23 August 2013 Basetec made an adjudication application and
Basetec sent to the solicitors for CGE an email that included a
copy of the email that Basetec had sent to the Authorised
Nominating Authority (ANA) that day and attached to the email a
letter, the adjudication application forms and a Dropbox link to
the relevant adjudication application submissions and supporting
On 23 August 2013 the recipient of the email read the email and
its attachments but did not look at the documents that were
viewable upon opening the Dropbox files.
On 26 August 2013 Basetec sent a similar email directly to a
member of staff of CGE, which email also contained the Dropbox link
to the adjudication application submissions and supporting
documents. That person also read only the email and attachments and
did not look at the documents within the Dropbox files.
The Service Question
CGE and its solicitors only became aware of the content of the
Dropbox files on Monday 2 September 2013. On that same day, CGE
provided an adjudication response to the ANA and Basetec.
On 2 September 2013, Basetec emailed to the adjudicator and the
solicitors for CGE submissions regarding the service of the
The adjudicator determined that he was precluded from
considering any submission from CGE which was received after 30
CGE complained that it had been denied the opportunity to
provide an adjudication response because the adjudicator erred in
concluding that the time for that response started running on 23
August – that being the date on which the adjudicator
concluded that Basetec's application was served.
The case turned on the question of when the adjudication
application was served on CGE for the purposes of s103 of
The contract between the parties did not make provision for the
service of a document and it was not argued by either party that
the parties had agreed that the adjudication application could be
served by Dropbox.
McMurdo J found that "...some of the documentation
comprising the adjudication application was not itself within the
email [of 23 August 2013]. In my conclusion, that puts paid to the
possibility that this adjudication application could be regarded as
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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This was an interlocutory decision about the appointment of a tutor for the child appellant, to carry on his proceedings.
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