The Government Legal Department requires new claims to be served on a particular email address. Our lawyers served (1) on 27 April 2021 an “unsealed” (i.e. yet to be stamped by the Court) copy of the claim form on that address and (2) on 28 April a sealed copy of the claim form to three named Government lawyers dealing with the claim, one of whom acknowledged receipt.
The time limit for filing the claim expired on 5 May and on 6 May the Government Legal Department wrote and pointed out that a sealed copy had not been served on the correct email address.
Our lawyers made various applications to correct that technical deficiency but yesterday they were rejected by the Court. As the judgment explains:
“The reason for the failure was an innocent, but careless mistake made by solicitors acting for the Claimant.”
With proper respect to the judge, we do not think the decision is right. The breach was inadvertent and had no real-world consequence. We think the decision reduces the law to an artificial game played without reference to reality. We do not believe that is what the law should be or is. We will pursue an appeal to the Court of Appeal but overturning case management decisions is difficult and there can be no guarantee of success.
What this means in practice if our appeal succeeds is delay. What it means if our appeal fails is that our opportunity to bring the claim will be lost. Should that happen it is our expectation that the solicitors will meet all the costs associated with bringing the claim – both our costs and the costs we will incur to the Government.
Obviously, we will keep you updated.
We employ the best lawyers available – but even lawyers are human and mistakes happen. We continue to instruct Bindmans in this and other cases – and to be entirely confident we are right to do so.
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