Barton v Wright Hassall Llp: SC 21 Feb 2018

The claimant, a litigant in person, purported to serve his statement of claim by email, but had not first sought the defendant’s agreement as required. The solicitors allowed the limitation period to expire without acknowledging service. The claimant now appealed against his claim being struck out for limitation.
Held: The appeal failed. The decision was one made in the discretion of the court. What constitutes ‘good reason’ for validating the non-compliant service of a claim form is essentially a matter of factual evaluation. The main factors, the weight of which will vary with the circumstances, are likely to be: (i) whether the claimant took reasonable steps to serve in accordance with the rules; (ii) whether the defendant or his solicitor knew of the contents of the claim form when it expired; (iii) what, if any, prejudice the defendant would suffer from validation of the non-compliant service.
‘there is a disciplinary factor in the decision whether to impose or relieve from sanctions for non-compliance with rules or orders of the court, which has become increasingly significant in recent years with the growing pressure of business in the courts. CPR rule 6.15 is rather different. It is directed specifically to the rules governing service of a claim form. They give rise to special considerations which do not necessarily apply to other formal documents or to other rules or orders of the court. The main difference is that the disciplinary factor is less important. The rules governing service of a claim form do not impose duties, in the sense in which, say, the rules governing the time for the service of evidence, impose a duty. They are simply conditions on which the court will take cognisance of the matter at all. Although the court may dispense with service altogether or make interlocutory orders before it has happened if necessary, as a general rule service of originating process is the act by which the defendant is subjected to the court’s jurisdiction.’


Baroness Hale of Richmond, PSC Lord Wilson, Lord Sumption, Lord Carnwath, Lord Briggs JJSC


[2018] UKSC 12, [2018] 1 WLR 1119, [2018] WLR(D) 116, [2018] 3 All ER 487, UKSC 2016/0136


Bailii, Bailii Summary, SC, SC Summary, SC Summary Video, Video 22 Nov 2017 am, Video 22 Nov 2017 pm, WLRD


Human Rights Act 1998


England and Wales


Application for LeaveBarton v Wright Hassall Solicitors Llp CA 16-Jun-2015
Application for leave to appeal . .
At CABarton v Wright Hassall Llp CA 23-Mar-2016
Application under CPR 6.15(2) for an order that steps already taken to bring a claim form to the attention of the defendant, but falling short of good service under the CPR, shall count as good service. . .
CitedPrince Abdulaziz v Apex Global Management Ltd and Another SC 26-Nov-2014
The appellant was involved in very substantial litigation with the respondents. As a member of the Saudi Royal family he said that by convention he was not allowed to sign a witness statement, and appealed inter alia against orders requiring him to . .
CitedDenton and Others v TH White Ltd and Others CA 4-Jul-2014
(De Laval Ltd, Part 20 defendant) (Practice Note) Several parties applied for relief from sanctions, having been refused at first instance:
Held: The court identified a three stage process. It should first calculate the seriousness and or . .
CitedElmes v Hygrade Food Products Plc CA 24-Jan-2001
Where a claim form is served in time but is incorrectly served (in this case on the defendants’ insurers instead of on the defendants themselves), there is no power in the court under CPR 3.10(b) (remedy of errors of procedure) or CPR 6.8 (service . .
CitedAbela and Others v Baadarani SC 26-Jun-2013
The claimants sought damages alleging fraud in a company share purchase. They said that their lawyer had secretly been working for the sellers. The claim form had been issued, but the claimant had delayed in requesting permission for its service . .
CitedPower v Meloy Whittle Robinson Solicitors CA 2-Jul-2014
The court itself had failed to effect proper service because of an administrative error.
Held: The Court rejected the submission that the claimant need not necessarily demonstrate that there was no way in which he could have effected service . .
CitedNata Lee Ltd v Abid and Another CA 18-Dec-2014
The Court pointed to the need to treat litigants in person in the same was as others: ‘ the fact that a party (whether an individual or a corporate body) is not professionally represented is not of itself a reason for the disapplication of rules, . .
CitedHysaj v Secretary of State for The Home Department CA 16-Dec-2014
Applications for extensions of time to file an appeal should be taken the same as for applications for relief from sanctions, and should attract the same rigorous approach. There is no good reason to have a different approach for public law cases. . .

Cited by:

CitedCameron v Liverpool Victoria Insurance Co Ltd SC 20-Feb-2019
The Court was asked in what circumstances is it permissible to sue an unnamed defendant? The respondent was injured when her car collided with another. The care was insured but by a driver giving a false name. The car owner refused to identify him. . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Litigation Practice, Human Rights, Limitation

Updated: 31 July 2022; Ref: scu.605315