In many of our recent blog entries here at London Registrars, we have drawn attention to the considerable effect that process agents can have in relation to disputes that arise between multiple parties.
The conclusion of one such dispute several years ago, between the Greek lender Piraeus Bank and three defendants, served as a further demonstration of the crucial service performed by process agents.
What were the details of this case?
The dispute in question – Piraeus Bank v Grand Anemi Limited (and others)  EWHC 974 (Comm) – related to the breach of a 2009 loan agreement (and related indemnities) between, among others, Piraeus Bank and Grand Ameni.
Under this loan agreement, $86 million was owed. The borrower and the corporate guarantor were companies incorporated in Malta and the Marshall Islands that later ceased to function.
Contained in the agreement was a provision irrevocably appointing a London service agent, who would have the responsibility of acting as an agent for Grand Ameni and receiving and accepting any documents related to English proceedings.
Piraeus Bank later served proceedings on Grand Ameni’s agent, only for the agent to resign two weeks later.
What was the ruling of the court?
Jacobs J ruled that Piraeus Bank’s service of the Claim Form on the defendants in the case via a contractually nominated service agent in London had been valid service, given that the appointment had been irrevocable. It therefore did not matter in this regard that the service agent later purported to resign from the appointment.
As a consequence of this, it was possible for any further documents to also be served on the nominated service agent. In addition, the court granted permission to serve the personal guarantor, a Greek national, outside of the jurisdiction via a contractually nominated attorney-at-law in Greece.
Important lessons arose from this case in relation to process agents
The outcome of this dispute underscores how vital it is to make sure any appointment of a process agent is expressly stated to be “irrevocable”.
Doing so will mean that in the event of the agent resigning or the relevant defendant withdrawing the agent’s authority, service may still be affected on that agent, unless the parties expressly agree to a different means via which service can be affected.
Is your organisation in need of the services of process agents to enable your compliance with contractual obligations? If so, we can take on this crucial role for your organisation here at London Registrars, helping to ensure the utmost peace of mind; simply call 020 7608 0011 or send us an email for further information.