Writ — validity — court should not more readily grant applications for extension post-CJR
The plaintiff (“P”) was a BVI company and the registered owner of a vessel, which was insured by four defendants (“D1–4”) under two policies. On 18 May 2012, P issued a writ in respect of an insurance claim it had made, but subsequently withdrawn, relating to damage to the vessel’s engine sustained in July 2006. A year later, P served an amended writ on D1, D2 and D4 in Hong Kong and sought leave to extend the validity of the amended writ under Order 6 Rule 8(2) of the Rules of the High Court (Cap. 4A, Sub. Leg.) (“RHC”), so as to serve it on Taiwan-incorporated D3 out of time. D3 had been notified in January 2007 that P wished to reopen the claim, but heard nothing further until 13 May 2013, when P asked whether it would appoint solicitors in Hong Kong to accept service of the writ.
Held, dismissing P’s application, but granting D1–2 and D4’s application for security for costs, that, inter alia:
The discretion to extend the validity of a writ did not arise unless the plaintiff first established good reason, including one which supported deliberate non-compliance with the time limit involved. The authorities which predated the changes to the RHC introduced by Civil Justice Reform continued to apply and the court should not more readily grant applications for extension. The law concerning the validity of a writ and its extension was no mere formal procedural rule. Underlying it was the policy of the law that promoted finality of litigation, the prevention of stale claims, and the protection of a defendant from having a claim hanging over his head indefinitely.