ACTION STRUCK OUT WHEN CLAIMANT GIVES WRONG ADDRESS ON THE CLAIM FORM
I am grateful to solicitor Hamish Cameron Blackie for sending me a copy of the judgment of HHJ Bloom in Conlon -v- Ringway Infrastructure Services Ltd (County Court at Luton, 2nd December 2021) where the judge struck out an action because the claimant gave an incorrect address on the claim form. Conlon v Ringway- – 2.12.21 – Approved Judgment re strike out V1
“A party to proceedings must give an address at which that party may be served with documents relating to those proceedings. The address must include a full postcode unless the court orders otherwise”.
The claimant brought proceedings against the defendant, the claim form gave an address for service but requested that all correspondence be sent via an email address. The defendant obtained evidence that the claimant had not lived at the address in the claim form for some time and had been evicted a year before proceedings were issued.
THE DEFENDANT’S APPLICATION
The defendant applied to strike out the action on the grounds that the address provided was not the claimant’s residential address and he was in breach of CPR 6.23.
THE JUDGE’S DECISION
Directions were made by the District Judge for the filing of evidence. The defendant filed evidence that the claimant did not live at the address. The claimant contested this issue but did not file evidence or attend the hearing.
The judge found that the claimant was not living at the address in question and that, on the facts of this case, it was appropriate to strike the action out.
15.The overriding objective requires that when I am considering what to do I should look
at what would be just and how to deal with it at a proportionate cost. I have to ensure
that parties are on an equal footing and can participate fully in proceedings. In my
view then, there is a lack of equality of arms where one party is complying with the
rules and providing their address and the other party is simply refusing to do so. As I
say, as we can see from today’s hearing, it leads to difficulties with each and every
hearing whereby the court is being asked to adopt a special procedure for this litigant
where he is served by email. That is not acceptable. It does not save expense,
because again, as happened here, documents are sent to that address and returned “not
known” ; the bundle is prepared, it is sent to that address, not taken by the tenant
because Mr Conlon does not live there; that causes extra expense to the defendants.
16. The court has to deal with it in a way that is proportionate to the amount of money
involved, the importance of the case, the complexity of the issues and the financial
position of each party. I of course accept that this is probably very important to Mr
Conlon that he gets a resolution of his claim in which he is seeking I believe nearly
£12,000. However, as against that, the reality is that it is a very old claim; had he
wished to pursue it properly I would have expected him to provide an address at
which he could be served.
17. This case has to be dealt with expeditiously and fairly. The reality is it cannot be
dealt with expeditiously and fairly where one party is misleading the court and not
available to be served with documents at an address in the United Kingdom or
elsewhere but no other address has been given.
18. The court has allotted court resources to this application, it was listed in the summer as being an application to set aside which has been heard and the court has listed it for a day today. Mr Conlon has chosen not to attend. That is quite a lot of court resources. There are other cases that require the court’s attention.
19. Finally, and perhaps most important, the court has to ensure compliance with rules,
practice directions and orders. As I have already mentioned, Mr Conlon has breached
the court order that Deputy District Judge Duncan made because he has not provided
any statement at all in support of his position for today’s hearing and he has not
attended as required, whether physically or remotely. As far as compliance with rules
is concerned, he has not complied with 6.23. Not only has he not complied with it but
he has maintained a position which is plainly wrong and the court has no confidence
whatsoever, were it to stay these proceedings, that Mr Conlon would comply and
provide an address, and nor does the court think it is proportionate or fair for the
defendants that this case continues in abeyance, in effect, stayed for a claimant who
has deliberately misled the court. The court does know and understands that the
consequences of striking it out will be that the limitation period applies, but Mr
Conlon has brought this upon himself by lying to the court and failing to correct the
position when it became clear that he was not living at Flat 8 Curzon Gate, Grandfield
Avenue, Watford and therefore the court takes the view that the correct and proper
step to take is to strike out under CPR 3.4(2)(c) on the basis that it appears to the court
there has been a failure to comply with a rule, practice direction or court order. And in
this instance, where it is maintained before the court today and there is no apology,
no acceptance of fault and no indication that were the court to stay it that Mr Conlon
would comply. In these circumstances, the court considers that, given this case is
now extremely stale anyway, that the case should be struck out and therefore the court
strikes out the claim