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Lawbite: Make sure you get good service!

  • United Kingdom
  • Real estate litigation

31-01-2019

UKI (Kingsway) Ltd v Westminster City Council [2018] UKSC 67

Although on the topic of service of a rates notice, this Supreme Court case provides general guidance on the service of notices, relevant to most property cases.

A local authority served a completion notice under the Local Government Finance Act 1988 on the owner of an office building – this was to specify the date the re-developed building was to be brought within the rating list.

The notice was addressed to “the owner” and hand delivered to the building, by handing it to the receptionist of the building’s management company. Although the receptionist had no authority to accept service she scanned in the notice and emailed it to the owner (the correct recipient).

The owner argued that the notice was invalid because:

  1. it was not delivered directly to the owner, but instead went through the hands of a third party (namely the receptionist that was not employed by the owner); and
  2. it was received by the owner in electronic, not paper form.

It was held that the notice was valid because the intended recipient actually received the notice and there was “sufficient nexus” between that receipt and the server’s actions.

Key points

  • when serving notices great care must be taken to follow the service provisions in the lease/relevant legislation; if you do not either the notice may be invalid, or the risk of non-receipt may be on you
  • whilst service on a third party is not ideal and could render the notice invalid, there may be occasions when it will be valid
  • in some cases email transmission may be deemed valid service but this must be used with care and possibly in combination with other methods of service

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