Email blocked by firewall was not validly served says court. Published May 2020

May 26, 2020 1:49 pm Published by

The danger of using email to send vital documents to the courts without checking receipt has been highlighted by a recent court case.  A judge has ruled that an appeal sent by email to the First-tier Tribunal was not validly served after it was blocked by the Tribunal’s firewall. 

The Tribunal case concerned an appeal by businessman, Jeffrey Ashfield, into a £386,000 tax assessment by HM Revenue & Customs.  Mr Ashfield’s accountant had emailed the appeal to the Tribunal, but there is no record that the documents were received.  It is likely that the email, which was 10mb in size, was blocked by the Tribunal’s server.

The problem was only revealed when HMRC’s debt management department contacted Mr Ashfield to follow up on the outstanding debt.  In court Judge Philip Gillett ruled that the appeal had not been validly served.

The problems with the correct delivery of electronic material are well known and anyone hoping to rely on email as a consistent and reliable provider of delivery services knows that they are taking a risk in this regard,” said Judge Gillett.

Thankfully in this case however, the judge did grant permission for late notification of the appeal because he said that Mr Ashfield may have an arguable case against the tax assessment and due to the large sum of money involved.

James Burgoyne of Brunel Professions says the case highlights the risks to professionals of sending important information by email without confirming receipt.  “Contracts, invoices, professional papers and other documents can go missing, particularly where there are large file sizes.  If the document is important, it is wise to check it has been received to avoid any dispute later,” he said.

Reports about the case have been published by Litigation Futures. is owned by Brunel Professions, which is a leading professional indemnity insurance broker in the UK.  Click here to get a quote or call 0345 450 1074 to speak to a broker.

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This post was written by James Burgoyne

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