COURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION)
ON APPEAL FROM THE CENTRAL LONDON COUNTY COURT
(His Honour Judge Cowell)
Friday 11 October 2002
B e f o r e :
LORD JUSTICE MUMMERY
LORD JUSTICE JONATHAN PARKER
|DEBORAH VAN AKEN||Appellant|
|THE LONDON BOROUGH OF CAMDEN||Respondent|
Smith Bernal Reporting Limited
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Mr Ranjit Bhose (instructed by Legal Services, London Borough of Camden) appeared on behalf of the Respondent.
Crown Copyright ©
LORD JUSTICE WARD:I will ask Lord Justice Jonathan Parker to give the first judgment.
LORD JUSTICE JONATHAN PARKER:
"An appeal must be brought within 21 days of his being notified of the decision ..."
"On that day, the appellant's solicitors prepared three sets of appropriate papers, and a member of the solicitors' staff left the office at 3.30 and arrived at the court offices at 4.15 after they were closed to the public, and so her papers were not received. At 17.56, the solicitors sent by facsimile the appropriate copies of the appropriate documents and for full measure posted through the letter box of the court at 6.30pm another full copy of all the appropriate documents."
"`filing', in relation to a document, means delivering it, by post or otherwise, to the court office; ..."
While looking at CPR 2, I should also refer to CPR 2.8(5), which reads as follows:
"When the period specified -
(a) by these Rules or a practice direction; or
(b) by any judgment or court order,
for doing any act at the court office ends on a day on which the office is closed, that act shall be in time if done on the next day on which the court office is open."
"This Part contains general provisions about -
(a) documents used in court proceedings; and
(b) the obligations of a court officer in relation to those documents."
"Particulars of the date of delivery at a court office of any document for filing and the title of the proceedings in which the document is filed shall be entered in court records, on the court file or on a computer kept in the court office for the purpose. Except where a document has been delivered at the court office through the post, the time of delivery should also be recorded."
"A party filing a document by fax should be aware that the document is not filed at court until it is delivered by the court's fax machine, whatever time it is shown to have been transmitted from the party's machine."
"If a fax is delivered after 4pm it will be treated as filed on the next day the court office is open."
"In my judgment, the word `deliver' or `delivering' to the court office in CPR 2.3 must mean, when it comes to determining the day of delivery, the day on which the matter falls to be dealt with, so that any document that is delivered after 4 o'clock in the afternoon when the county court office is closed, must be treated as having been delivered on the following day. Otherwise there might be very odd disputes of fact as to whether something sent by fax was sent by fax before midnight or just after midnight and it seems to me that nothing should turn upon a distinction like that. I do have at the back of my mind various rules - the details of which I cannot at present identify - of offices such as the Land Registry where documents have to be delivered by a certain time of day if they are to be treated as having been delivered on that day. So it does seem to me that on the true construction of all those provisions that I have referred to this document was not delivered on Monday the 17th."
"In answer to the first question: when was the appeal brought? It seems to me on the true construction of all those rules that it was brought on 18th December which was the appropriate day for the court staff to deal with the matter. When any action is initiated the date, in many cases being an important date, is determined by looking to see when the action or proceeding or appeal, or whatever it is, was authenticated by the court, by the court's stamp or seal, or whatever it is, being put upon it. So that deals with the first question: when was the appeal brought? It was brought on Tuesday the 18th. The dating on the 18th cannot be faulted because that was, upon the facts, the appropriate date."
"The second principal reason for saying that there is no power to extend time is that the whole context of the Act is one of speed and dispatch. Local authorities have to deal with a large number of unfortunately homeless people. They have to be categorised in various ways so that they join different queues, and they are treated in different ways according, broadly, to their needs. Effectively, what an appellant is doing is contesting a decision made and sometimes seeking to be put into a different category or queue, and it is vital in the interests of all that matters are disposed of reasonably rapidly so that local authorities know where they are in relation not only to the particular appellant, but in relation to the general body of homeless people. It is not, therefore, difficult to see why, if an appellant is to take the matter beyond what is to some extent somewhat akin to an appeal within the local authority, speed is of the essence."
"This goes directly to the jurisdiction of the court. If the appeal is not brought in time then that is because it is of the essence of the entire appeal process in this part of the Housing Act that matters are dealt with speedily."
"The effect of [the relevant rule] is that posting a document to the court office does not amount to `the filing of a document by delivery to the proper officer', unless the document is actually received. ... A document is not delivered to an individual unless the individual is there to receive it." (Emphasis supplied)
Later on the same page, Chadwick LJ said:
"I find in the words of that rule a sufficient basis for holding that the filing of a document in the county court can only be done when the county court office is open." (Emphasis supplied)
"Delivery of a document to the proper quarter does not require action on the part of anybody at that proper quarter."
"As it seems to us, presentation is primarily a unilateral act to be carried out by the person who is presenting. However, it does require some form of collaboration by the person to whom the presentation is being made: an act of presentation cannot be completed unless it is either actually received by the person to whom the presentation is made, or has been placed or communicated through a channel which the person to whom the presentation is to be made has indicated as an acceptable means of communication and receipt. Therefore, it is only possible to say that presentation of the complaint was impossible so as to introduce the Pritam Kaur exception if it can be said that on Sunday, 6 December, there was no channel for receiving the complaint on that date. As it seems to us, if business is being carried on in a building which, when closed, has a door to which the public have access and that door contains a letter box held out as a means of communication, a document put through that letter box is in any ordinary sense `presented' to the person carrying on that business when it is put through the letter box. We do not wish this case to turn on the exact details of the internal arrangements made in this particular regional office. As it seems to us, an application is presented if it is placed through a letter box or dealt with in some other way held out by the regional office as a means whereby it will receive communications."
"In my opinion it is difficult to say that presentation requires any action on the part of the body to which presentation is made. Delivery of a document to the proper quarter does not require action on the part of anybody at that proper quarter. Donaldson P in the passage quoted contemplates subsequent registration, but that is not part of the presentation. In my judgment the line of authorities of which Pritam Kaur was an example depend on activity on the part of the other party, whereas presentation does not."
LORD JUSTICE MUMMERY:
LORD JUSTICE WARD:
"`filing', in relation to a document, means delivering it, by post or otherwise, to the court office;"
"... filing it [the document] in the court office by delivering it to the proper officer for entry by him in the records of the court."
So one notes that under that old rule we were told where the document was being filed (in the court office); how (by delivery to a person, the court officer); and even why (for entry by him in the record). The current rule is considerably simpler.