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Do Solicitors Accept Service by Email?

  1. Diane from Liverpool
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Question

Do Solicitors Accept Service by Email?

Answer

Solicitors do not universally accept service by email as standard practice. Acceptance of documents served by email is contingent upon explicit consent by the solicitor acting for the defendant, as delineated by the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR).

This means that for service by email to be valid, there must be a clear, written indication from the solicitor that they agree to receive documents in this manner, along with the provision of an appropriate email address for such service​​​​.

Given the importance of ensuring that the email reaches the correct party without any issues, employing an email verifying tool can be a prudent step.

Such tools can help confirm the validity and reachability of the solicitor's email address before documents are served, potentially mitigating risks associated with email delivery failures or disputes about whether an email was properly received.

The Supreme Court has reinforced the importance of adhering to these formalities in cases like Barton v Wright Hassall LLP, emphasizing that without compliance with the specific requirements set out in the CPR, service by email would not be considered valid​​.

This stance is further supported by practical considerations regarding the management and monitoring of electronic communications within legal practices, which can present challenges in ensuring that important documents are appropriately received and acknowledged​​.

Legal framework and requirements

The Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) provide the legal backbone for the service of documents in England and Wales, encompassing provisions for service by email. However, such service hinges on the prerequisite that solicitors must explicitly consent to accept service via this digital medium. Recent judicial interpretations have underscored the importance of this explicit consent, reflecting a stringent adherence to ensuring that all parties are unequivocally aware of and agree to the terms of email service. This focus on explicit consent serves to safeguard the procedural integrity and mutual acknowledgement of electronic service within legal frameworks.

Challenges and considerations


The practicality of serving legal documents by email introduces several challenges, notably in the management and monitoring of electronic communications by solicitors.

This method necessitates rigorous protocols to ensure that important legal documents are not overlooked amidst the vast volume of digital correspondence. Moreover, the implications of incorrect service by email are significant, leading to potential judicial leniency in cases of unauthorised email service.

These considerations underscore the complex interplay between evolving digital practices and established legal standards, emphasising the need for meticulous attention to procedural details in the service of documents via email.

Looking Ahead

The advent of email as a commonplace method of communication invites a reevaluation of existing legal protocols, particularly the Civil Procedure Rules.

There is a burgeoning recognition of the need to adapt these rules to better accommodate the realities of modern digital communication, aiming to alleviate the technical obstacles that currently impede the fluid administration of justice.

Reflecting on how future regulations might evolve to acknowledge the ubiquity of email communication today, it's clear that a balance must be struck between maintaining procedural rigour and embracing the efficiencies of digital innovation.

Crystal Horwood

Crystal Horwood

PACE Property Professionals

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