The County Court system – do you know what the date is?!

When a County Court sends out a document with a date stamped on it, that date is known as the “Issue” date.  It is deemed to have been received 5 days after the issue date and this is known as the date of “service”.  Generally any deadline for action has to be made within a certain timeframe that starts on the date of “service”.

One of our clients shared our disgruntlement when they received an email from one court to say that their defence had been struck out because it had been emailed to them too late.  We read the previous direction for that same court (giving a deadline of 7 days from the date of service) and we disagreed with the court’s ruling.

As our client had thus been effectively awarded a judgment against them, we assisted them in completing an Application Notice designed to have their defence reinstated on the basis that the date of their emails showed that it had been sent on time.

Further, we suggested that the Application to do this be presented in person to our client’s nearest court and to persuade a Judge to look at it on the day, so as to prevent the risk of bailiffs attending their forecourt.

After a three hour wait, a Judge called in our client and approved the Application within 10 minutes, accepting that the first court had made an error as they had taken the time to submit a defence as running from the date of issue and not the date of service, which it should have done.

But when our client returned to his office, he had a letter from the first court saying that they were correct in not allowing the defence to be submitted “because there is not 5 days between the Issue date and the date of Service – but TWO days!

Well no-one has ever said that before!  Luckily the Judge who granted our client’s request knew that this is not the case.  For if it is only two days, anything posted from the court on a Friday is deemed to have reached the recipient on or before Sunday - when there is no postal service.  The whole point of having it set as 5 days is that it allows for weekends and busy times such as Christmas to not unduly restrict the time that a person has to deal with the documents that they send.

Worryingly, it is those who have no legal assistance who will lose out when these things happen.  Another reason to join Lawgistics!

Published: 17 Mar 2014

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