Default costs certificate overturned due to multiple errors in service

The case of Gregor Fisken Ltd v Carl [2021] EWHC B9 (Costs), is an example of the court setting aside a default costs certificate where the claimant was not entitled to it under CPR 47.12(1).

In this case, the defendant’s solicitors had indicated that they were no longer instructed and had, incorrectly, indicated that they did not need to file a notice of change as judgment had been handed down. They provided an email address for correspondence and costs solicitors acting for the claimant purported to serve a bill totaling £510,743.61 on the defendant, not only at the email address provided, but also at an address of a property in London owned by the defendant.

Following the issue of a default costs certificate, the defendant made applications to set aside the default costs certificate and for a general extension of time to serve points of dispute. The claimant also made an application asking the court to remedy any error in service of the bill of the costs.

It was held by Master Leonard that the bill of costs was served on the wrong person, by the wrong method and at the wrong address. Service at the email address provided by the defendant’s former solicitors was not valid because the defendant had not authorised service there in accordance with CPR 6.23(6) and paragraph 4.1 of Practice Direction 6A. Because the defendant’s former solicitors had not served a notice of change, all that was required was to serve the bill on them.

The Master went on to find that the court’s general power to rectify matters where there has been an error of service in CPR 3.10, could not be used to validate service where documents had been served on the wrong person, at the wrong address and by the wrong method.

Furthermore, the Master held that there were no good reasons to retrospectively authorise service under CPR 6.27, as the Claimant had not taken reasonable steps to effect service under the rules.

This article was featured in our July 2021 newsletter, see the full newsletter here.

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