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Service on an individual – an alternate method

Under the CPR, service on an individual must be at his usual or last known residence. But there may be an alternative - at least, when the individual is a company director.

Under s.162 Companies Act 2006, every company must keep a register of directors. Under s.163, the register must include a "service address" for each director. A "service address" is "an address at which documents may be effectively served on that person" (s.1141) and may be the company's registered address.

The Companies Act 2006 (Annual Return and Service Addresses) Regulations 2008 provide that the service address must be a place where the service of documents can be effected by physical delivery. There is no requirement for the service address to be within the jurisdiction; but equally, the service address may well be in the jurisdiction (particularly if the registered office address is used) even if the director is not resident here.

The true utility of these provisions lies in s.1140, which provides:

(1) A document may be served on [a director or secretary of a company] by leaving it at, or sending it by post to, the person's registered address.

(3) This section applies whatever the purpose of the document in question. It is not restricted to service for purposes arising out of or in connection with the appointment or position mentioned in subsection (2) or in connection with the company concerned.

(4) For the purposes of this section a person's "registered address" means any address for the time being shown as a current address in relation to that person in the part of the register available for public inspection.

Key Homes Bradford Ltd & Ors v Patel [2014] EWHC B1 (Ch) (10 January 2014), a decision of Master Marsh, appears to be the first time that this section has been considered. After a review of the legislative history, the court concluded that the section does indeed have the wide-ranging effect that appears on its face. It is "... a parallel code ...", "... entirely outside the provisions for service in the CPR," and "... of broad effect", applicable to the service of documents in proceedings unconnected with the individual's directorships.

This may be a useful tool to have up your sleeve if service is proving problematic. 

David Willink / 1st Apr 2014


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