Service of proceedings should be simple and straightforward. But what happens when you are faced with an evasive Respondent? In those cases, service rapidly becomes one of the most frustrating (and sometimes costly) aspects and your proceedings have yet to begin! When you add the current pandemic to the mix, it is not surprising that case reports about challenges to jurisdiction and default judgments have been on the rise.
In an ideal world under the 2014 LCIA Arbitration Rules, the parties would: (i) agree service by electronic means and designate relevant email addresses; or (ii) agree a physical address for the purposes of receiving communication in regard to the arbitration agreement. Alternatively, the parties would at least be able to point to a specific address regularly used in their previous dealings where written communications relating to the arbitration can then be delivered. However, delivery of written communications to the other side and, in particular, the Request for Arbitration can be a feat of its own if none of the above apply. The challenge can be even greater if the Respondent refuses to engage with the process and there is limited or no information about the Respondent’s registered address or principal office, or its directors’ principal residences so that it is not possible to rely on the safety nets provided by section 76 of the Arbitration Act 1996.
In this article, Jenny Lau and Mariya Lazarova share some practical tips to deal with service of a Request for Arbitration on evasive Respondents.
Prepare, investigate and keep records
Explore all physical and electronic options
Stay on top of the logistics
Finally, be ready for surprises along the way! We have seen the discovery of new addresses after delivery has already been attempted, papers have been refused upon delivery and in one instance, the occupants of the Respondent’s registered address claimed to have never heard of the Respondent at all.
Although the above might be a matter of common sense, the risk of an eventual challenge to the arbitration award for lack of effective notification or jurisdiction makes going back to basics well worth the trip!
*This article is not intended to give any legal advice or to give rise to client-solicitor relationship. It has been preparation for information purposes only. If you require legal assistance in the field of arbitration and/or litigation, please contact iLaw’s Head of Arbitration, Jenny Lau at firstname.lastname@example.org
 The decisions in Sino Channel Asia Ltd v Dana Shipping and Trading PTE Singapore & Anor  EWHC 1118 (Comm) (20 May 2016) and Glencore Agriculture B.V. (formerly Glencore Grain B.V.) v Conqueror Holding Ltd  EWHC 2893 (Comm) are useful reminders about the pitfalls of service on unauthorised persons and the use of improper email addresses.