Wednesday 30 April 2014

Normal service

There are so many examples of what follows day to day that we are in danger of thinking that it has become the norm. This is one of too many at the moment though.

We have sent what should be a fairly routine case for issue at that high-tech hub in Salford, the County Court Money Claims Centre. Client is trying to recover a debt from a limited company, failing that from one or other or both of the husband and wife directors who have guaranteed their company’s liabilities.

As in so many cases, we ignored our programmed reminders to chase the court for a notice of issue.  We have not quite yet conceded defeat and amended the software programme but more often than not now we give it another couple of days because of the grudging acceptance that it takes over a week for this centre of excellence to even get the details of new matters loaded “on the system”.

In this case we had a telephone call last week to tell us that we would need to make an application.  Why?

The explanation was that we are trying to issue against the company at the same address as the guarantor defendants.   It is a residential address. Yeeees...

We are not given any explanation by reference to rule or practice direction.  We are just told that we will have to supply a different address or make an application.

Following discussion with a deputy district judge, the staff member tells us that we ought to know the rules.  The advice from the DDJ is to consult amongst other things “The Green Book”.

What – you mean the County Court Practice that was rendered largely if not entirely obsolete about 15 years ago?

Perhaps he had in mind the HM Treasury guidance for public sector bodies on how to appraise proposals before committing funds to a policy, programme or project.

Or more likely Government guidance on vaccination against preventable infectious diseases in the UK. 

Either would be more apt in context.

So we are still not given chapter and verse as to why the court office sees fit to ring us up and tell us that we have the wrong address for service on the company.  We have helpfully drawn attention to the fact that this is the registered office address, whatever else they might think.

They check that now and yes it is all fine...

Well what a waste of time that was (again).  And now we have notices of issue confirming that the proceedings were indeed commenced one day last week.

Only trouble is that all three notices of issue have gaping blanks for the date of posting, the date of service and the date by which the defendant has to respond.

Another letter, and another long wait, another string of telephone calls where somebody has to speak to a resident judge who will perhaps suggest that we should instinctively understand and accept responsibility for them getting it all wrong.

Fantastic.  You couldn’t make it up. 

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