Service of Documents via Email

21st February 2022

If you reach a stage in a dispute where proceedings need to be issued against another party, you can’t automatically serve these via email.

Service of documents

The Civil Procedure Rules 1998 governs all civil litigation matters. It states that you must obtain permission from the opposition to serve documents via email. Often this is refused because the opposing party does not want to make it easy for you to serve documents on them.

Digital communications are popular

The majority of the business world use email almost exclusively as their form of communication. The Court and other governing bodies are similar. So isn’t it odd that you can’t issue proceedings via email?  This may seem doubly strange when proceedings themselves can be issued online and then the issuing party must print the documents and serve by other means.

A petition has been started this week with a view to forcing a change of these rules so that service by email will be the default position; not only making it easier to serve proceedings but cutting down on printing and the risk of proceedings going astray in the post; not receiving proceedings can lead to satellite litigation and for more unscrupulous parties, the playing of “tactical” games.

In todays ever changing world, the desire to reduce carbon footprints and an increasing reliance on technology this would appear to be a sensible step forwards.

In the meantime, if you are intending to issue proceedings then:

  • make sure you dust off that printer,
  • check your ink supplies and
  • pick up some stamps or you could face the prospect of your claim being halted for incorrect service.

Ignorance of the rules is also no defence. In the 2018 case of Barton v Wright Hassell the Supreme Court refused to allow service via email by a litigant in person (an individual representing themselves). Taking it all the way to the Supreme Court would have been an expensive endeavour alone. Let alone the need to restart proceedings!

Use our knowledge and expertise

If you are looking at issuing proceedings, then contact the litigation team at Burtons Solicitors. We can help you with the preparation of the proceedings and make sure the service of documents is done correctly. The litigation team can be contacted on 01892 824 577 or at

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