The well established rule that an overseas company that establishes a place of business in Great Britain and does not provide an address for service can be served with process at that place of business1 was thrown into confusion by the insertion into the 1985 Companies Act of several new provisions including a new section 694A(2) which provides that process may only be served on a branch “in respect of the carrying on of the business of the branch”.2 The new rules did not purport to change the situation in relation to a place of business falling short of a branch, and thus created the anomaly that it was apparently easier to serve a place of business than a branch. The proper interpretation of these rules arose in Saab v. Saudi American Bank (Court of Appeal, 2 July 1999).3 Before the case was heard by the Court of Appeal, the new Civil Procedure Rules entered into force on 26 April 1999. Under Part 62(2):
A company may be served by any method permitted under this Part as an alternative to the methods of service set out in—
(a) section 725 of the Companies Act 1985 (service by leaving a document at or posting it to an authorised place);
(b) section 695 of that Act (service on overseas companies); and
(c) section 694A of that Act (service of documents on companies incorporated outside the UK and Gibraltar and having a branch in Great Britain).
Under Part 6.5(6) where a party has not given an address for service, a document may be served on a company not registered in England and Wales at “any place of business of the company within the jurisdiction.”