Judge rules on various service of a claim form issues

In this case, Teare J ruled on various issues relating to service of a claim form, including the following:

1. The claimants had done nothing wrong in waiting 4 months after the issue of the claim form to apply for permission to serve out of the jurisdiction. On the evidence, it was clear that the claimants had initially hoped to serve in the jurisdiction because it was thought that the defendant travelled to England on a regular basis (he was not domiciled in an EU country). Permission to serve the defendant out of the jurisdiction in Florida and Moscow had been given and it had been appropriate for the claimant to attempt to serve in Florida as a priority because the Foreign Process Service had advised that service in Russia would take a minimum of 12 months.

2. The claimants had then attempted personal service in Lebanon. Tseitline v Mikhelson & Ors [2015] EWHC 3065 (Comm) established that a process server must hand the relevant document to the person upon whom it has to be served. If the defendant refuses to accept it, the process server may tell him what the document contains and leave it with him or near him. A person can only “accept” the document if the nature of the document is readily apparent or known to the recipient. Where the defendant refuses to accept the claim form, the focus is on the knowledge of the recipient, not the process by which it is acquired. Whilst in most cases knowledge of the nature of the document will be found to have been imparted by a simple explanation, it is clear that it can also readily be inferred from pre-existing knowledge, prior dealings or from conduct at the time of or after service. In this case, the defendant was not told that documents placed in front of him in a bag at a check-in counter at an airport were related to legal proceedings in London. However, it could be inferred that the defendant had that knowledge because the documents were visible and easily accessible and the defendant had leafed through them