Court provides guidance on effecting service on an unwilling recipient
In this case HHJ Paul Matthews held that personal service had been successful on two separate occasions, despite the recipient’s repeated refusal to take possession of the documents which were served.
The process server instructed to serve the recipient with an order entered the recipient’s block of flats, and spoke to them through their flat door explaining that the documents were of a legal nature and then posted the documents through the letterbox placing them inside the recipient’s flat.
In a second attempt to serve the same individual with a contempt of Court application, the process server approached the recipient outside their flat, and explained that they were providing them with important legal documents connected with those proceedings.
The process server touched the recipient with an envelope containing the documents, however they refused to take the envelope and ran away. The processer server then entered the recipient’s block of flats and left the envelope leaning against their door.
The judge held that personal service had been effected on both occasions as the process server had explained the nature of the documents, and that they related to legal proceedings, they had been left as close as reasonably possible to the recipient and with the application there was a sufficient degree of possession when the recipient was touched with the documents.
The judge also noted that the documents had unequivocally come to the recipient’s attention.
Certain documents which require personal service, including bankruptcy petitions, can often be tricky to serve when the recipient suspects they are likely to be served and so tries to avoid personal service. The guidance provided by HHJ Paul Matthews in these two cases assists with providing clarity on when personal service is effective even when the recipient refuses to cooperate.
The full judgments in these cases can be accessed at: https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Comm/2022/1117.html and https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2022/1118.html