The plaintiffs, trustees of the will, sued the solicitors who had prepared it in negligence. They issued the writ some 7 months before the limitation date for their claim, but did not then serve it. They were advised first to make an application to the court (a Beddoe application, see In re Beddoe  1 Ch 547 (CA)) to safeguard their position as to costs. They issued their application a few weeks before the expiry of the limitation period and some months later obtained an ex parte extension of the validity of the writ, subsequently further extended, in order to cover actual service, which was finally effected some 9 months after limitation expired. In those days a writ was valid for an initial 12 months. The defendant solicitors challenged those extensions and were initially unsuccessful (Hoffmann J) and then succeeded by a majority in this court.Delays arising from the need to make a Beddoe application do not justify a delay in the service of a writ nor an extension of time for service.
Lord Browne-Wilkinson stated that the starting point of any consideration of extension of the period for service must be that a defendant has a right to be sued, if at all, by means of a writ issued within the limitation period and served within the period of its initial validity.
Ind Summary 05-Apr-1993, Gazette 23-Jun-1993,  1 WLR 388
England and Wales
Cited – In re Beddoe, Downes v Cottam CA 1893
In case of doubt as to the desirability of the intended proceedings (whether as plaintiff or defendant), trustees may apply to the court for directions. This will protect the trustees from adverse costs orders. If given leave to sue or defend by the . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 08 April 2022; Ref: scu.79779