[2017] EWHC 1438 (TCC)

Issues sometimes arise about whether adjudication proceedings have been properly served. The comments of Mr Justice Stuart-Smith here, whilst dealing with an extreme case, provide some helpful guidance. Section 115(3) of the Housing Grants Act 1996 requires service “by any effective means”. This is not the same as the formal requirements of the CPR in relation to service of documents for the purposes of legal proceedings. Effective service does not of itself mean that the party to be served must come to know of the adjudication: if a notice or other document is addressed, pre-paid and delivered by post to the addressee’s last known principal residence it shall be treated as being effectively served. Clause 1.7.3 of the contract in question (JCT Intermediate) provided that notices may be given or served “by any effective means” and that notice shall be duly given if delivered by hand to the recipient’s address stated in the contract particulars or to such other address as the recipient may from time to time notify to the sender.

Here the Adjudication Notice was effectively served and the adjudication was properly constituted, with due notice being given. Corich had not notified any other address as provided for by clause and so 7 Gunter Grove remained the contractual address for the service of notices, despite Corich saying in an email sent after the contract had been terminated that he would not receive things sent there. To meet that difficulty, Lobo had also served the Notice on 25 Gunter Grove which was an effective address for service because it was Corich’s most consistent and reliable address throughout the relevant period, for the reasons given above and because Corich received the Notice even though he took the conscious decision not to look at it.

Further, Lobo agreed to Corich’s request that all correspondence should be copied to him by email and the Judge held that if it had been necessary to do so, he would have held that the sending of the Notices to Corich by email at his request was sufficient to comply with clause 1.7.2, being the electronic supply of documents as requested by the party in question. This too would constitute effective service under the Act.