Ruling benefits companies serving legal proceedings to debtors living outside the UK

By Lauren Lee

Most companies will be familiar with the peculiarities and pitfalls in serving legal proceedings on debtors out of their jurisdiction, and time and costs involved can be long winded and disproportionate.

This issue is prevalent at the moment and Shoosmiths is witnessing an increase in the number of individuals who, following a failed business venture in the UK, move abroad and are often never heard from again. Even where the individual’s out-of-jurisdiction address is known, it can take months or even years to serve the proceedings, by which point professional fees have soared and key assets have been dissipated.

Court rules state that where the debtor does not give an address at which he may be served, the address for service will be the debtor’s usual or last-known residence. Where the debtor is known to reside outside the UK, the proceedings must be served in accordance with the law of the country involved. Depending on where the defendant is located, permission is often required from the court to serve on the individual…

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