What Constitutes Good Service?

A recent case of Morby v Gate Gourmet Luxembourg IV Sarl and Specialist Airport Services Limited [2016] EWHC74 (Ch) has confirmed the rules on what constitutes good service. The Court found that a bankruptcy petition had been personally served (on its intended recipient) even though he wouldn’t accept it from the process server and directed his friend to throw the petition in a rubbish bin!

Personal service required that the document be handed to the person to be served or, if he would not accept it, that he be told what the document contained and the document be left with or near him, Kenneth Allison Ltd (In Liquidation) v AE Limehouse & Co [1992] 2 A.C. 105 and Tseitline v Mikhelson [2015] EWHC 3065 (Comm) applied. In this  case, the appellant had not touched the bankruptcy petition. Instead, the process server had handed it to his witness. However, by his own account, the appellant had been aware that the document was a petition seeking a bankruptcy order against him and it had been left near him. It could even be said to have been left with him, because he had had a sufficient opportunity of possessing the document to enable him to exercise dominion over it. He could have had the document at any time by simply asking his witness to hand it to him or retrieving it from the rubbish bin, Nottingham Building Society v Peter Bennett & Co Times, February 26, 1997 applied.

As the registrar concluded…“it is clearly not in the interest of the effective administration of civil justice that a person should simply be able to refuse to accept personal service of a claim form and thus defeat the jurisdiction of the court, absent the availability of another lawful form of service”.

This case highlights that Rule 7.51A Insolvency Rules 1986 applies equally to insolvency matters to those matters relating to CPR Part 6 with regards to service.

Well said my Lord!