Karyn Coburn considers the decision in BVC v EWF  EWHC 2674 (QB) where the Court upheld the validity of service by email.
This case involved a claim for damages for misuse of private information and harassment. The claim form, and an interim injunction order, was required to be served on the Defendant, who claimed to be in Switzerland and not domiciled or resident in England. The Court originally made an ex parte order permitting service by email on the understanding that the Defendant was resident within the jurisdiction and service would be effected within the jurisdiction. The Defendant challenged the validity of the service by email and the Claimant applied for an order pursuant to CPR 6.15(2) and CPR 6.27 to regularise the service by email.
Pursuant to CPR 6.40, service on a defendant in Switzerland should be effected in accordance with the Hague Service Convention, which provides that the Central Authority of the State addressed shall itself serve the document or shall arrange to have it served by an appropriate agency. The Claimant had to show ‘good reason’ for the Court to authorise service by an alternative method pursuant to CPR 6.15(2).
The Court confirmed the threshold for making such an order is high; “Because service out of the jurisdiction without the consent of the state in which service is to be affected is an interference with the sovereignty of that state, service . . . by an alternative method . . . should be regarded as exceptional, to be permitted in special circumstances only”. A desire to avoid the delay inherent in the permitted method of service under CPR 6.40 was not sufficient.
However, in this case, the threshold was met in the circumstances of the case, namely, an injunction had been obtained to prevent disclosure of the Claimant’s private information, urgent injunctive relief was the kind of circumstances that had previously been regarded as exceptional or special, service by email was the only effective means of protecting the Claimant’s legal rights, and service by email brought the proceedings very effectively to the Defendant’s attention and enabled him to challenge the Court’s jurisdiction.
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