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Service of a claim form at the debtor's last known address (1)

If you want to issue a claim form but are unsure where the debtor resides or if they have moved house, this does not in principle prevent you from pursuing them through the courts.

Last known address

The Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) govern the rules on service of a claim form. They state that the claimant may serve the document on an individual’s usual or last known address. If it is a business, depending on the entity, the claim form can be served at the principal or registered office or at a place within the jurisdiction where the business carries on its activities and which has a real connection with the claim. If you have no address at all for the debtor Ashfords' Asset Recovery Team (in conjunction with specialist agents) can provide a trace of the individual which is often done on a no trace no fee basis and aims to provide you with a confirmed address for the individual.

Reasonable steps

Where the claimant has reason to believe that the address of the defendant is an address at which the defendant no longer resides or carries on business, the claimant must take reasonable steps to ascertain the address of the defendant’s current residence or place of business. The claimant should approach the reasonable steps test with caution, if the court considers that reasonable steps were not taken then they may decide that your service was invalid. Ashfords' Asset Recovery Team can provide a detailed trace report using open source research of the debtor. This report can provide you with either a confirmed up to date address or the relevant evidence you need to show that reasonable steps have been taken to ascertain the debtor's current address.

Deemed service

Whether or not the debtor receives the claim form the court will consider it served if it has been done in accordance with the CPR. A claim form served within the United Kingdom in accordance with the CPR by post is deemed to be served on the second business day after postage. Depending on the chosen method of service it is important to ensure that you have evidence that the document was served. The easiest way to do this is for the court to serve your claim form. The court will then send you a notice of issue which will state the date of service and the date of deemed service.

Comment: It is important to get service right as service can become very complicated if not done properly at the outset. Claimants can often get into difficulty if they have not followed the correct procedure or made a mistake as to when a document is deemed served. If you have any queries about this please contact Holly Ransley who will be happy to assist.