A Court of Appeal judge has spoken out against ‘another wasted example of satellite litigation’ after overturning a court’s decision to strike out a claim.
Lord Justice Tomlinson ‘unhesitatingly’ allowed the appeal in Power v Meloy Whittle Robinson after the original judge had stopped the case for non-service within a four-month period.
The claimant, a former coal worker, had brought a claim against his former solicitors MWR over the handling of an case for an injury suffered at work.
The claim was struck out by the county court for non-service, but Tomlinson heard that the problem was due to errors by the court.
The county court had been asked to issue a claim form for solicitor service, but served it by post on the defendant themself. The defendant’s solicitors had already requested service on themselves instead of their client and that rendered the service by the court invalid.
The judge had decided there was no good reason to authorise service by another method because the defendant had acted properly and it was wrong to ‘sidestep the rigours of CPR 6.16'.
However, Tomlinson said ignored previous judgments that cases should proceed if the defendant is fully aware of the proceedings against them. He added that he agreed with Lord Justice Lewison’s previous judgment that the purpose of service of proceedings ‘quite obviously, is to bring proceedings to the notice of a defendant. It is not about playing technical games’.
Tomlinson said only the claimant ‘escapes censure’ over the conduct of this case.
‘This depressing litigation reflects no credit on our civil justice system. It is yet another example of wasteful satellite litigation unconcerned with the merits of the underlying claim.’
He invited counsel to agree upon the wording of a form of order which both satisfies the requirements of CPR 6.15(4) and gives directions necessary to ensure that the action proceeds swiftly to trial.