Society of Lloyd's v Tropp

All England Reporter, 2004, January, Society of Lloyd's v Tropp
Society of Lloyd's v Tropp
[2004] EWHC 33 (Comm)
20 January 2004
[2004] All ER (D) 149 (Jan)
Practice and procedure - Service of process - Service on agent - Contract containing service of process to clause irrevocably appointing agent - Agent directed by claimant to enter into contract - Authority of agent to accept service on defendant's behalf - Possibility of conflict of interest - Validity of service.
The claimant, Lloyd's, sought payment from the defendant, who was a citizen of the United States and not domiciled in the United Kingdom, of the Equitas reinsurance premium due to the reinsurance and run-off contract (the RI contract) entered into by, inter alia, Equitas Reinsurance Ltd (ERL) and the defendant. The benefit of that contract was assigned by ERL to Lloyd's. AUA 9 was directed by Lloyd's to enter into the RI contract in accordance with its terms as an integral part of the Reconstruction and Renewal Scheme. That contract contained a service of process clause to the effect that each name not domiciled in the UK irrevocably appointed AUA 9 as agent to accept service of any proceedings in the English courts on his behalf. The defendant applied under CPR Pt 11 to set aside the service of the claim form.
Issues arose as to the authority of AUA 9 to accept service on the defendant's behalf and whether there was a conflict of interest because AUA 9 was entirely under the direction and control of Lloyd's.
The application would be dismissed.
(1) There was nothing unusual or improper about the service of process clause that service on a name might properly be effected by service on a nominated designated agent within the jurisdiction.
In the context of the R & R scheme considerations of convenience and practicality called for such a clause in the RI contract in respect of names not domiciled in the UK. Furthermore, in all the circumstances a clause providing for service of process in the jurisdiction was, in the case of the instant contract, a proper ancillary procedural clause which Lloyd's and AUA 9 were entitled to conclude.
(2) There was no conflict of interest and nothing to prevent AUA 9 from acting as the defendant's agent.
There was no authority which suggested any general limitation, based on an agent's relationship with a claimant, which precluded that agent from validly accepting service on behalf of a defendant in the same proceedings. Further, in the instant case, the agent for service was a separate corporate entity from the claimant, accordingly, it was not a case of Lloyd's affecting service simply by leaving the claim form and other documents with itself. The documents had to be served on AUA 9. In any event there was no room for the principles of conflict of interest. Whether regard was had to the framework within which the RI contract and clause were contained or to AUA 9's role, there was no choice in the matter. AUA 9's role in accepting service of process formed no part of the implementation of the RI contract and was purely ministerial and mechanical.
Louise Hutton (instructed by the Legal Services Department of the Society of Lloyd's) for the claimant.
The defendant appeared in person.
Dilys Tausz Barrister.

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