Court clarifies principles on extensions of time for service in Lunn v Antarctic Logistics: analysis & outcome

Citation: [2024] EWHC 169 (KB)
Judgment on

Introduction

In the case of Stuart Lunn v Antarctic Logistics Centre International (Pty) Ltd (No 2), the High Court’s King’s Bench Division was tasked with considering an application challenging jurisdiction and procedural points, one of which contested the court’s discretion to extend the time for service of the Claim Form. This article provides an analysis of the key topics and legal principles engaged by Master Thornett in the judgment and aims to clarify the rationale behind the court’s decision. The case hinges on the proper application of Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) concerning extensions of time for service out of jurisdiction and the requirement of full and fair disclosure in the context of a without notice application.

Key Facts

The factual crux of the case revolves around a claim for service out of jurisdiction related to a personal injury sustained on 12 February 2018. The Claim Form had been issued on 10 February 2021 but had not been served by the stipulated deadline. An extension of time for service was granted by the court, made without notice to the Defendant, as is permitted under CPR 6.36. The Defendant challenged this extension on the grounds of material non-disclosure and other procedural irregularities.

The case invoked several pivotal legal principles:

Duty of Full and Fair Disclosure

On without notice applications, an applicant is obligated to disclose all material facts – this court referenced principles from “Re OJSC Yugraneft v Sibir Energy PLC [2008] EWHC 2614 (Ch)” which underscores the necessity of informing the court about all factors that a judge would regard as relevant when deciding on an application.

Reasonable Steps to Serve

CPR r.7.5 delineates the responsibility of the claimant to take “all reasonable steps” to serve the Claim Form within the specified time – a tenet detailed in “ST v BAI (SA) (t/a Brittany Ferries) [2022] EWCA Civ 1037”. However, when seeking extensions prospectively, the claimant isn’t bound to have taken “all” reasonable steps, only “reasonable” ones.

Extensions of Limitation Periods

Implicit in granting an extension for service is the effect on statutory limitation periods, which the court should recognize – even if not explicitly addressed in an application – as a key consideration for personal injury claims.

Review of Applications and Sanctions

Drawing from the principles in “OJSC”, the judgment scrutinized the weight of purported non-disclosure and the delay by the claimant in both serving the Claim Form and applying for an extension. The court assessed the degree of culpability and the potential injustice of imposing sanctions should non-disclosure be established.

Outcomes

Master Thornett concluded there was no material non-disclosure by the claimant and that reasonable steps had been taken prior to requesting an extension of time. The application by the Defendant to set aside the order extending time for service was thus dismissed.

Conclusion

The judgment elucidates the importance of presenting a without notice application with full and frank disclosure but also underscores the practical application of what constitutes “reasonable steps” when litigating in unique circumstances, such as a global pandemic. Further, the case reaffirms that the courts recognize the practical implications of extensions on limitation periods and expect litigants to discharge their duties within reasonable bounds. The judgment is a reminder of the nuanced balance that courts strike between enforcing procedural rules and ensuring justice is not miscarried due to overly punitive technical reprimands.

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