Service of Documents via Email

21st February 2022

If you reach a stage in a dispute where you have to issue proceedings against another party, did you know you are not allowed to automatically serve these via email? Under the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 which governs all civil litigation matters, 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.

With most businesses using email as an almost exclusive form of communication and even the Court and other government bodies going digital it may seem strange that you cannot therefore serve 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.

Add in that many businesses have switched to a working from home model where possible, this creates a challenge to make sure your proceedings get served, particularly as there is a time limit in which to serve them.

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!

If you are looking at issuing proceedings, then contact the litigation team at Burtons Solicitors and we can not only help you with the preparation of the proceedings and their issue, but importantly we can help you make sure they are served correctly. The litigation team can be contacted on 01892 824 577 or at