Brinksmanship with court deadlines

Posted: 13th January 2017

DeadlineCourt rules impose strict time limits on the service of legal documents and failure to comply with them can be disastrous. In one case, brinksmanship in respect of one such deadline very nearly ended a substantial professional negligence claim.

A group of companies had issued proceedings against two limited partnerships, claiming negligence in respect of various audits and due diligence work. The partnerships’ response, through their solicitors, was to issue a formal notice under the Civil Procedure Rules, requiring that the proceedings either be served or discontinued by a particular date.

Towards the end of business on that date, a Friday, the proceedings were delivered to the loading bay of the solicitors’ offices. The Court found on the evidence that that amounted to valid delivery of the documents. However, by operation of the Rules, the deemed date of service fell on the second day of business following delivery and the deadline had therefore been missed.

However, in rejecting the partnerships’ application for summary dismissal of the companies’ claim, the Court noted that the latter’s legal representatives had believed in good faith that the notice had been complied with. The documents had come into the solicitors’ hands on the Monday following delivery and the failure to comply strictly with the deadline had not caused the partnerships any prejudice.