How to Serve Legal Documents by Email

The court has warned litigators that sending a document to multiple email addresses does not constitute good service, even where the party receiving the documents has agreed to it.

The Rules

Documents may be served by email where the receiving party has given prior agreement in writing to the party serving that they are willing to accept service by email, and provided the e-mail address (CPR PD 4.1(1)). The requirements of PD 4.1(1) will be deemed to be satisfied if the email address:-

  • Is provided on the solicitor’s writing paper and states that it may be used for service; or
  • Is set out on a statement of case or a response to a claim filed with the court.

Multiple Email Addresses

In Tax Returned Ltd & Ors, R (On the Application Of) v Commissioners for His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs [2022] EWHC 2515 (Admin) the Claimant purported to serve a Claim Form by email. The Defendant had provided two email addresses upon which documents should be served. The Court concluded that the meaning of the letter giving permission to serve by email did not give the Claimant a choice to serve on either address; it required documents to be served on both.

The judge identified that CPR 4.1 refers to “email address” in the singular and that interpreting it in the way the Claimant sought would require inserting significant words into the rule.

Plainly the situation would become absurd if parties could submit multiple email addresses to which documents were to be sent before good service had been effected.

Para 74

The Court went on to find that the consequence of a party failing to provide a single email address is that 4.1 has not been complied with and service cannot take place by email.

Litigators should ensure that they only provide one email address for service. If another party provides multiple email addresses for service a request for a single address for service should be sent, failing which service should be effected by other means.

Matthew Rose is a Solicitor in the Costs and Litigation Funding department. You can contact the team at

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