Service of claims

In Isaac Stoute (A Minor by his litigation friend Michael Stoute) v LTA Operations Ltd (T/A Lawn Tennis Association) [2014] EWCA Civ 657 (15 May 2014), the Court of Appeal held that the service of a claim form in error by a court was still “effective service” as it was a procedural error capable of remedy under the Civil Procedure Rules.

Stoute had issued a discrimination claim against the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), requesting that it be returned to him for service (rather than the Court serving the claim on the LTA). The court, however, ignored the instruction and served the claim form on the LTA.

Note that when a claim is issued at the County Court, you can ask for it to be served immediately on the defendant, or to be returned to you once it has been issued. If you are going through a complaint procedure or the discrimination questionnaire procedure and need more time before you start Court proceedings, but the time limits mean you have to issue the claim, you can issue the claim and ask for it to be returned to you for service as you have up to 4 months from the date of issue to serve the claim on the defendant.

This case confirms that service made in error is still “effective service”. So if you do not want your claim to be served on the defendant straight away, make sure it is absolutely clear to the Court.


Deaf, hubby to Rachel, dad to Corey, Libby and Emily, Solicitor, Lecturer in Legal Practice at University of South Wales, PhD student at University of Leicester.

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