Due to the imminent closure of our local court, claims sent there for issuing are forwarded to Salford Business Centre for processing.
I do not have a problem with this, as the case file stays with the local court. It is merely the issuing of the claim and the sending out of the documentation which Salford processes.
I issued such a claim recently and was sent back the Notice of Issue with a leaflet of instructions about which documents should be sent to Salford Business Centre and which should continue to be sent to the local court. No problem.
What was missing was a sealed copy of the Claim Form. I assumed this was an oversight.
I therefore called the 0300 number on the Notice to ask them to send me a copy, only to be told that it is no longer the policy of Salford Business Centre to send to the claimant/their solicitor a sealed copy of the Claim Form.
When I protested that, as one High Court master had said to me, the sealed documents constitute the ‘passport to the justice system’, I was told that I could write to the court to complain and see if they would send me a copy.
It was, however, now the court’s policy not to do so.
Given that Salford Business Centre is sending to me an A4 envelope with the Notice and the leaflet in any event, I fail to see the logic in the new policy of not sending back a sealed copy of the Claim Form as it is not saving any postage.
Does this mean that I no longer need to send in the Claim Form in triplicate for issuing?
What copy should I put in hearing or trial bundles? An unsealed copy?
What if the other side assert that the unsealed copy is different to the version they received? Or do I need to apply to get a copy off the court file and pay the copying fee?
When did the court decide on this policy and have they issued guidance on it? Was the profession consulted?
Fortunately, I always keep a complete copy of any Claim Form including attachments I send for issuing, but I can imagine there are practitioners out there who do not and who may well now be caught out.
Marie-Claire Clinton, principal solicitor and director, JHLaw, Rugby