Service of Documents – EC v Sunday Newspapers Ltd [2016] NIQB 61

September 20, 2016

In the above case, Mr Justice Stephens adjudicated as to whether the Defendant’s Solicitors, who had sent to the Central Court Office an email with a PDF attachment with a notice requesting a trial by a jury, had been effectively lodged with the appropriate office within the meaning of Order 33 Rule 4 (2) of the Rules of the Court of Judicature (NI) 1980.

In this case the Plaintiff contended that to lodge a request in the appropriate office requires the physical presence of a person in the office physically lodging the document. There was no authority produced to support this argument. The Plaintiff however sought to rely on the Oxford English Dictionary definition of the word lodge, which is “to place or deposit” and/or “to deposit in Court or with some appointed officer a formal statement of (an information, complaint, objection etc.) The definition of the word deposit was also explored and means, “The action of placing something in a specified place.”

Mr Justice Stephens saw no reason why depositing or the action of placing something in a specified place has to be done by a person as opposed to being done electronically. It was however stated that if a party chooses to do the action electronically then that party runs the risk of the electronic communication failing.

The Plaintiff also referred the Court to Order 34 Rule 4(1) which under the heading “Lodging Documents” which provides that:

“The party setting down an action for trial must deliver to the appropriate office…”

It was contended by the Plaintiff that to deliver and therefore lodge, required a person attending at the office. Again it was found that there is no reason why delivery has to be by a person attending the office. The important point is whether the documents have in fact been delivered. Mr Justice Stephens found that by sending an email with the PDF attached, the request of the Defendant for trial with a jury had been successfully lodged in the Central Office.

This article has been produced for general information purposes and further advice should be sought from a professional advisor.

Should you have queries about the content of this article, please do not hesitate to contact Christopher McCluskey, Solicitor at Cleaver Fulton Rankin.


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