The case of Medhi Khosravi v. British American Tobacco PLC [2016] EWHC 123 (QB) concerned an application for an extension of time for service of the claim form and particulars. Sir David Eady, sitting as a High Court judge, reminds us that obtaining an extension of time for service of a claim remains a risky business for those parties to litigation that want to "take a chance". Sir David Eady states: "Then overriding objective requires that the disciplines imposed by the CPR should not be allowed to lapse unnecessarily. Any delay in the normal timetable must be justified by the applicant. Such extensions should certainly not be granted as a formality or go through 'on the nod'."

Extensions of time

The jurisdiction to extend time pursuant to CPR 7.6 must be exercised in accordance with the overriding objective and a good reason must be given. The judge referred to the cases of Hashtroodi v. Hancock[2004] 3 All ER 530 and Hoddinott v. Persimmon Homes [2008] 1 WLR 806. 

In Medhi Khosravi v. British American Tobacco PLC, Sir David Eady made it clear that the claimant had to show good reasons for seeking the extension of time for service. He acknowledged that, whilst it is recognised that a litigant can establish a good reason where he has been unable to serve the claim despite his best efforts, the court does not consider that encountering difficulties with funding or formulating one's case are good enough reasons to justify granting an extension of time for service. The better course of action would be to serve the claim form and then seek an immediate stay after service.

Generally, the courts will not only consider the reasons for seeking an extension, but also weigh up the effect that granting an extension will have on both parties having in mind at all times the overriding objective. For example, the longer a case is allowed to drag on, the greater the costs and stress will be and there will also be a lack of finality for the parties. Here, the claim form was originally issued on 10 January 2014 and should ordinarily have been served by 10 May 2014. The claimant had, however, sought seven extensions of time from the Masters pursuant to CPR 7.6 and, therefore, the claim was already delayed by some 16 months by the time the application came before Sir David Eady.

In this case, the without notice extensions of time would have been set aside, but in any event the claim and particulars of claim were struck out on the basis that they were woefully lacking in particulars and also summary judgment was granted as the claim had no realistic prospect of success.