Jonathan Lewis successfully secures setting aside of judicial review claim form on the basis of late service
CPR 54.7 provides that a claim form must be served upon the defendant within seven days of issue. There has been little to no authority on that provision until now. In R (on the application of The Good Law Project) v The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care  EWHC 1782 (TCC), Mrs Justice O’Farrell DBE held that the consequence of failure to comply with CPR 54.7 is that the claim form is set aside, which brings an end to the claim. Jonathan Lewis appeared as part of a team instructed by the Government Legal Department, represented The Secretary of State for Health & Social Care.
The Claimant brought a judicial review challenge to the award to Interested Party of a contract to supply face masks (needed at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic). It alleged various breaches of the Public Contract Regulations 2015 and that the award was vitiated by apparent bias. In pre-action correspondence, the Defendant’s solicitors, the Government Legal Department, expressly stated that they would accept service by email but to a designated email address. The Claimant had sent the unsealed claim form to that designated address but when the claim form was issued, instead emailed it to the case holders dealing with the case and failed to send it to the designated address within the deadline.
The Claimant sought an order under CPR 6.15 to render valid its service, alternatively sought an retrospective extension of time in which to serve the sealed claim form. Both applications were refused.
For a more detailed summary of the decision, see this article in the Law Gazette.
The judgment can be found here.