In the recently released judgment of DB UK Bank Ltd v.
Sinclair Solicitors Ltd  EWHC B29 (Ch), the High Court
has provided an important warning to litigants when considering
taking an overly technical position in response to an
opponent's deadline for service of the claim form and the
particulars of claim.
A claim form was issued by the claimant on 6 March 2015, but
then a consent order was agreed between the parties, which stated
that "the claimant be granted an extension of time for service
of the claim form and particulars of claim of two months to 7
September 2015". In accordance with the order, the claimant
sent the claim form and particulars of claim to the defendant by
fax (timed at 16.03 hours) and by DX on Friday 4 September
The defendant made an application seeking a declaration that the
court had no jurisdiction to hear the claim as it argued that
reference to extending time in the order meant "deemed
service" and that, by 7 September 2015, the claim form and
particulars of claim were despatched too late.
Master Matthews firmly rejected the defendant's application
as he considered that the consent order extended the period for
compliance with CPR 7.5, which only required the claim form to be
despatched in time. The claimant had complied with this deadline.
The fact that the claim form would not be deemed to be served under
CPR 6.14 until two days later was irrelevant in considering whether
the claimant had validly effected service.
It was clear to Master Matthews that the parties were extending
the period for compliance in accordance with CPR 7.5, and they used
the words in the terms of the order "an extension of time for
service of the claim form" to mean exactly that.
As the defendant had the documents by 7 September 2015 and knew
what they contained, Master Matthews found that it was only a
technical argument based on the effect of CPR 6.14 which gave the
defendant any cause to complain. As this technicality had no
discernible affect on the proceedings and no prejudice had been
caused, the application was refused.
The main point to be taken from this case is that parties to
litigation should be wary of taking technical points in
circumstances where they have not been prejudiced and where a
challenge in itself could cause a delay in proceedings. The court
made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that the defendant had been
wrong to make its application and, in doing so, had caused delay to
the proper running of the case.
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The English Commercial Court has published two recent judgments of Mr Justice Popplewell in a single anonymised case concerning the removal of two arbitrators under section 24(1)(d)(i) of the Arbitration Act 1996.
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