Two recent cases show that delivery of a claim form for information only is not good service and the court will not treat delivery in this way as a good enough reason to make an order for CPR r.6.15 (alternative method/place of service) or CPR r.6.16 (dispensing with service). This highlights how important it is to correctly serve the claim form and particulars of claim within the correct time period, especially where limitation issues apply.
In Higgins and others v ERC Accountants & Business Advisers Ltd and another the High Court decided that a claim form was not validly served within the extended time for service. A draft claim form had been sent to the defendants' solicitors for information only. The claim form sent was a draft rather than a sealed copy and did not enclose a response pack. Further, CPR 6.7 (service on a solicitor in the UK) had not been complied with as the claimants had not asked any of the defendants whether they could serve proceedings on their solicitors. The claimants' request for an order that the claim form be deemed served by an alternative method or at an alternative place under CPR 6.15 or 6.16 was refused. The mere fact that the defendant had learned of the existence and content of the claim form could not by itself constitute a good enough reason to make the order. The failure to serve was merely the result of negligent or incompetent error.
In Caretech v Oakden the outcome was the same. There was no valid service of the claim form because the claimant had served a copy with a covering letter which clearly said 'for your information'. Again, it had been delivered to the defendant's solicitors who were not authorised to accept service.