High Court Reject £1.6m Construction Claim Due To Email Error
The High Court has rejected an application for sanctions relief on a £1.6m construction claim because of an email address error.
The Law Society Gazette reported that Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart struck out an amended counterclaim from Martin Holton, in the case of Cockell v Holton, because an email address was typed incorrectly which caused an email not to be delivered.
The Cockell (trading as Cockell Building Services) v Holton case was a long-running construction dispute over building work costs.
Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart had threatened to strike out Mr Holton’s counterclaim unless his representatives served the proposed pleading by 20 March 2015.
At 3.46pm on Friday 20 March, Mr Holton’s solicitors sent an amended defence and counterclaim to the claimant’s solicitors, and an email to the Technology and Construction Court with the same attachments.
However, the email address was mistyped and the message was returned, marked undeliverable. Due to the email being sent on a Friday afternoon, this error was not detected and the documents were not filed until the following week.
As a result of the email address typo, Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart said he had automatically struck out the counterclaim.
He added that this error alone would be unlikely to have caused a strike out, but claimed the mistake was the ‘culmination’ of a course of conduct that amounted to a continuing breach of an order made in December.
Mr Holton failed to provide his representative with the necessary information until 18 March and neither he nor his solicitors had chased the missing information.
Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart felt the non-compliance passed the Denton test of being both serious and significant.
He said: “This was a case where, for whatever reason, the provision of the necessary information for the re-pleading of the counterclaim was left until the 11th hour.
“Those who leave necessary steps until just before the deadline must take the risk of a last-minute slip up.”
The judge gave Mr Holton permission to amend his defence, but forbid him from adding new information in the counterclaim. The case will go to trial in July.
Andy Rudkin, Head of Dispute Resolution at Else Solicitors, said: “This case is significant because it shows that if you fail to meet court deadlines, even if it is by mistake and generally where there is more than one breach, the implications are far reaching.”
Else Solicitors’s Head Of Construction Andrew Hickman has just been recognised as the Best Construction Lawyer in Burton on Trent by the Best Lawyers Directory.
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