During these challenging COVID-19 times, litigation is still very much progressing, albeit at a different pace. This makes avoiding certain mistakes even more essential to the efficiency and costs of litigation. In recent months alone, ASV Law Ltd has had to deal with multiple complex claims which are contractually governed by the laws of England and Wales but with Defendant’s located abroad in countries such as France, California and Canada.
Service of a claim is the official starting point of a claim and one that can easily be overlooked. Service is the procedure used to give legal notice to a Defendant of a Court’s exercise of its jurisdiction over the Defendant, enabling him to respond to the proceedings before the Court. It is from that point in time that all the trial deadlines will originate. What if the rules of the country you are serving do not conform with the service rules of the Country that proceedings have been issued in? What if the official service method in one place is not validated elsewhere?
Although, the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020, the UK continues to be treated for most purposes as if it were still an EU Member State, during the period of transition, which will end on 31 December 2020. Countries which require service through foreign governments, judicial authorities or British Consular authorities (normally transmitted through the Foreign & Commonwealth Office) have been suspended.
As regards to incoming service of proceedings under the Hague Service Convention (if service is outside of the EU) the UK has notified the Hague Conference on Private International Law (“HCCH”) that the Foreign Process Service (“FPS”) (which acts as the Central Authority under the Hague Service Convention), has suspended service of documents from other contracting states, but the FPS will work to complete requests for service as promptly as they are able to once staff levels return to normal.
Commonly made mistakes
There are strict laws about when, where and how a Defendant is served with legal documents. If a claim is not properly served, this could potentially result in a case being struck out by the Court. If there are time limit issues with bringing a claim (limitation), this could have devastating effects and could ruin any chances of financial recovery for the wronged party.
A Defendant could also potentially dispute service, which can raise all sorts of issues, which may result in an interim application early on in proceedings, thereby increasing costs and creating uncertainty.
In line with the principles of justice and procedural fairness, it is imperative that a Defendant is made aware of proceedings against him and is given an opportunity to respond to the claim and there are particular steps that need to be taken in order to facilitate good service. We can provide tracing services to locate a Defendant if this should become necessary.
We aim to provide clients with peace of mind and ensure that the rules and procedures of the country to be served in have been complied with and that the method of service chosen in validated under those local laws.
Why ASV Law Ltd
ASV Law Ltd is an elite independent high-profile litigation firm based in London, and servicing clients worldwide. We can assist with all procedures and infrastructure for serving proceedings in the destination state which may well be impacted by COVID-19, avoiding severe delays and dealing effectively with the temporary suspension of services. We endeavor to seek advice on the destination state’s local laws during the current situation and progress a claim to settlement or trial. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any queries and we will be happy to assist you.