(1) Citicorp Trustee Company Limited and (2) Golden Belt Sukuk Company BSC v. (1) Maan Al-Sanea and (2) Saad Trading, Contracting and Financial Services Co [2017] EWHC 2845 (Comm)

In this case, the High Court considered whether valid service had been effected upon two defendants based outside of the jurisdiction who had shown no willingness to be involved in the proceedings.

The main issue in these proceedings was whether valid service had been effected in circumstances where the defendants declined to participate in the proceedings. The relevant agreements nominated L A Investments Limited (L A Investments) as the agent for service of proceedings, whose address was specified as 16B Curzon Street, London. Two issues arose: L A Investments was in voluntary liquidation, and the address specified for service no longer existed and was now 15 Chesterfield Street (and in any event was now occupied by an unrelated company). The court found that the clause did not specify a particular address for service because the address was simply a means to identify the service agent, and service at 15 Chesterfield Street was therefore ineffective. The claimants' solicitors also identified the liquidators of L A Investments and served proceedings on them. The court held that valid service had been effected pursuant to the contractually-agreed method of service because the liquidators were acting as representatives of L A Investments for that purpose.

Although not necessary for his decision, the judge went on to consider what the position would have been if L A Investments had ceased to be the service agent. The relevant agreements provided that should L A Investments cease to be the service agent, the defendants must appoint a replacement agent for service and notify the claimants of the same within a specified time period. Failing that, the claimants were entitled to appoint an agent for service and notify the defendants of the same. The claimants had received no notification from the defendants that they had replaced L A Investments as agent for service and they went on to appoint an alternative agent for service with notification to the defendants. The judge held that this would also have been an effective method for service. For good measure, the claimants' solicitors had also attempted to bring the proceedings to the claimants' attention by a variety of means, including by courier to the addresses given in the leases, by facsimile, and also by email. The judge was satisfied that the claimants had done everything necessary to bring the proceedings to the attention of the defendants and that the proceedings (and also the application for summary judgment, which was served by the same methods) were validly served.