Amendments of the CPR – Service of a claim form on your opponent via email.
Part 6 of the Civil Procedure Rules (‘CPR’) provides the formal procedure to be followed for the effective service of a claim form on your opponent. When serving a claim form on your opponent via email, which email address should you use to send the document for it to be considered as an effective service?
A decision not to be followed
In October 2022, Practice Direction 6A 4.2 of the CPR was considered in R (Tax Returned Ltd & Others) v Commissioners for HMRC  EWHC 2515 (‘Tax Returned’), in relation to the service of a claim form via email. The court considered the interpretation of the provision and held that, effective service of a claim form could only occur when the party to be served on has provided one email address for service, and only that one email address was used to send the claim form to the recipient. This decision means that when your opponent has provided more than one email address for service, and the claim form was sent to all email addresses provided, that cannot be considered as an effective service of the claim form pursuant to the interpretation of the CPR.
Around 2 months after the judgment was handed down in the above case, the court in Entertainment One UK Ltd & Another v Sconnect Co Ltd & Others  EWHC 3295 (Ch) considered the approach taken in Tax Returned was impractical and could lead to unintended consequences, as there are obvious reasons why there would be more than one email address used when sending and serving a claim form. The court in this case had held that the judge’s interpretation of the CPR provision in Tax Returned is overly technical.
The judge had decided in this case that as long as 2 of the email addresses, amongst other email addresses provided by the recipient party for service were used to send the claim form, it would be considered as an effective and valid service of the claim form.
New amendments to the CPR
To reflect this, amendments to CPR PD 6A 4.1 were made by the Civil Procedure Rule Committee and this had come into effect on 6 April 2023.
CPR PD 6A 4.1 now reads:
“Service by fax or other electronic means
4.1 Subject to the provisions of rule 6.23(5) and (6), where a document is to be served by fax or other electronic means –
(1) the party who is to be served or the solicitor acting for that party must previously have indicated in writing to the party serving –
(a) that the party to be served or the solicitor is willing to accept service by fax or other electronic means; and
(b) the fax number, e-mail address or email addresses or other electronic identification to which it must be sent, and
(2) the following are to be taken as sufficient written indications for the purposes of paragraph 4.1(1) –
(a) a fax number set out on the writing paper of the solicitor acting for the party to be served;
(b) an e-mail address or email addresses set out on the writing paper of the solicitor acting for the party to be served but only where it is stated that the e-mail address or email addresses may be used for service; or
(c) a fax number, e-mail address or email addresses or electronic identification set out on a statement of case or a response to a claim filed with the court.
(3) Where a party has indicated that service by email must be effected by sending a document to multiple email addresses, the document may be served by sending it to any 2 of the email addresses identified.”
It is important to note that, should you wish to serve a claim form on your opponent via email, prior written confirmation must be obtained from them, pursuant to Part 6 of the CPR.
Without following the proper procedures provided under the CPR, service of your documents may be considered as ineffective, which may lead you to missing a court deadline, and wasted time and costs.
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