In Michael Rebbel Thorne v Lass Salt Garvin – Lawtel 5.2.09 the Appellant appealed against a decision that his purported service by fax of a claim form on the Respondent firm of solicitors was invalid and ineffective and a refusal to make an order dispensing with service.

The Appellant had issued a claim form against the Respondent, his former solicitors, and obtained an order extending time for service of the claim form. The solicitors he instructed to handle the claim faxed a letter, the claim form and the order extending the date of service to the Respondent, who declined to acknowledge purported service by fax as it had not complied with the CPR r.6.2.

The Queen’s Bench court held that the claim form had not been validly served when faxed. The Appellant had not first obtained the Respondent's agreement, in writing, to accept service by fax under CPR PD 6.3. Although the Respondent was a firm of solicitors, at the time of alleged service, it was not acting as its own legal representative; therefore, the existence of the firm's fax number on its headed paper did not indicate its agreement to accept service by fax.

This judgment emphasises the importance of strict compliance with the provisions relating to service and of not leaving service to the last minute.