BACK TO BASICS 18: WHEN IS A GOOD TIME TO APPLY TO EXTEND THE CLAIM FORM? NEVER, JUST NEVER
An enquiry today related to service of the claim form. What was the best way to get at extension of time. My answer was short. Applying to extend claim forms is a form of (basically reckless) gambling. Defendants can always apply to set extensions of time aside.
APPLYING FOR AN EXTENSION OF TIME TO SERVE THE CLAIM FORM IS SIMPLY GAMBLING – NO MORE NO LESS
It is difficult to emphasise how dangerous a step this is. A defendant (who makes the correct application) can always apply to set the extension aside. In this case the third defendant succeeded. The claimant cannot rely on a “false security” argument that the court granted the application and therefore the claim form was not served.
In Hoddinott –v- Persimmon Holdings  EWCA Civ 1203, where Dyson L.J. stated
50. Thus if a claimant applies for and obtains an extension of time for service of the claim form without giving notice to the defendant, he does so at his peril. He should know that an order obtained in such circumstances may be set aside. He can take no comfort from the fact that the court has made the order. He cannot be heard subsequently to say that it was the court’s fault that the order was made”
DICING WITH PROCEDURAL DEATH
The gambling analogy does not come from me. It comes from the courts. The position is set out simply, and graphically, in the judgment of Mr Justice Stuart-Smith in Lincolnshire County Council v Mouchel Business Services Ltd & Anor  EWHC 352 (TCC)
“Where a party issues protective proceedings hard up against the expiry of the limitation period, it is expected to pursue those proceedings promptly and effectively; and if it subsequently seeks and obtains orders extending time for the service of the Claim Form or Particulars of Claim without notice to the other party, it dices with procedural death. These simple propositions should be known to all professionals conducting litigation. They were established long before the recent reforms of the Civil Procedure Rules.”
THE ANSWER: SERVE THE CLAIM FORM AND APPLY (PROSPECTIVELY) FOR AN EXTENSION OF TIME SERVE THE PARTICULARS OF CLAIM AND ACCOMPANYING DOCUMENTATION
See the judgment of HH Judge Hodge QC in Phoenix Healthcare Distribution Ltd v Woodward & Anor  EWHC 2152 (Ch) t