Creditors will be pleased to learn of the ruling in Chelfat v Hutchison 3G UK Ltd  EWCA Civ 455 where the Court of Appeal held that the County Court Money Claims Centre (CCMCC) was not entitled to refuse to issue a claim form, because the Claimant had failed to complete a Form N510.
A claim form was sent to the CCMCC just before the expiration of the limitation period. The address for service in the claim form was listed as Scotland. The claim form was rejected due to the absence of a Form N510.
Form 510 is a form used to tell the Court and the Defendant why a Claimant doesn’t need the Court’s permission to serve a claim outside England and Wales.
A replacement claim form was sent to the CCMCC with an address for service within jurisdiction. The replacement claim form was sent to the CCMCC after the expiration of the limitation period. The replacement claim form was struck out on paper following an application by the Defendant. The Claimant then sought unsuccessfully to have the strike-out set aside.
The Claimant’s second appeal was permitted and succeeded, and the two substantive issues that fell to be decided upon were as follows:
Was the CCMCC entitled to refuse to issue the original claim form?
No, the CCMCC had not been entitled to refuse to issue the claim form for lack of a Form N510. Coulson LJ held the provisions of CPR 6.34 to be straightforward. There are two obligations at CPR 6.34(1) to file Form N510 with the claim form, and to serve a copy of Form N510 with the claim form. The sanctions for failing to file Form N510 with the claim form are set out in CPR 6.34(2) being that the claim form cannot be served until Form N510 was filed, or the Court must give permission for service. The rule therefore sets out both the requirement and the sanction if the Claimant does not comply.
Is it arguable that the action was brought on the original claim form?
Having found that the CCMCC was wrong to reject the original claim form and that being the only reason the subsequent claim form was struck out as being statute-barred; Coulson LJ found that the proceedings brought by the original claim form could, technically, be reinstated.
The assumption by Coulson LJ was that the original claim form was identical to the claim form issued, but for the address for service in Scotland. The Court found that drawing a distinction between the claim forms based on an address for service, for the purposes of limitation would be ‘to elevate form over substance’. Coulson LJ therefore took the view that the original claim form received by the CCMCC was the replacement claim form that was issued and that the change to the address for service did not matter because it had no bearing on the claim itself.
What is the significance?
The case allows for a claim form to be issued in the absence of a Form N510 or equivalent notice, meaning that if a Creditor is nearing the expiration of the limitation period and intends to serve the claim form out of the jurisdiction without permission, a failure to send a Form N510 or equivalent notice with the claim form will not prevent the claim from being issued. The case also provides a wider understanding to the words ‘as issued’ in CPR PD 7A, Paragraph 5.1, potentially allowing Claimants to bring amended documents within the ambit of that provision.
Written by : Leonie-Robyn Murtagh, Associate Solicitor
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