Service by tipstaff

Providing a useful reminder of the need to comply with the proper procedure in respect of location orders, an application was successfully made before the President for a location order to be discharged because of a failure by the applicant’s solicitors to comply with the requirements for service.

The location order granted by His Honour Sir Gavyn Arthur was made the subject of an application by the respondent, Mrs Shoyemi, for it to be discharged in the case of Olaribiro v Shoyemi [2014] EWHC 3365. As usual, the order had displayed at the top of it the words:

"Note that service of this order upon the respondent and any other person is to be effected only by the Tipstaff. The copy provided to the applicant must not be used for service upon any person."

This wording was repeated in the covering letter that accompanied the order when it was sent to the applicant’s solicitors. Despite this direction, the applicant’s solicitors asked tipstaff not to serve the order so that the solicitors could serve some orders for disclosure in advance. The solicitors then served the location order themselves by post. By the time the matter came before the President some six weeks later the location order had still not been served by tipstaff. The order was discharged.

Notify tipstaff if the order is discharged

This incident recalls an unreported case that the writer came across recently in which the applicant’s solicitors had successfully applied for a location order, wardship and port alerts which had all subsequently been discharged at the return hearing. At a further hearing the respondent was granted leave to remove the child from the jurisdiction. Despite the clear wording on the location order that the applicant’s solicitors needed to notify the tipstaff in the event that the order was discharged, this was not done. As a consequence, when the respondent boarded a flight with the child in accordance with the most recent court order the tipstaff were alerted and both respondent and child were escorted off the plane after it had started taxiing to the runway.

It is crucial to note the directions in  relation both to service and to notification of tipstaff if the order is discharged. Failure to comply may result in the location order being discharged or a wrangle over the wasted costs of a plane ticket.