Process serving is an important step in ensuring Due Process of Law. A process
server must deliver court summons to the parties involved in a legal dispute.
However, this seemingly simple act is governed by numerous rules, regulations
and laws. It is important that all relevant procedures be carefully followed,
or the entire case may be jeopardized. Regulations vary between jurisdictions,
but can generally be divided into several main categories. Presented here are
some topics that should be considered. However, this does not constitute legal
advice. Any legal matters should be discussed with a competent attorney.
In virtually all jurisdictions, hand delivery is considered
the optimal means of serving legal papers. Hand delivery involves physically placing
the papers into the recipient's hands. Properly documented and legally executed
hand delivery is extremely difficult to challenge in court. However, if the recipient
is evasive or uncooperative, hand delivery may not be possible.
accept delivery by touch or a similar method. This can be defined in different
ways, but may include dropping the papers at the recipient's feet, for example.
If you are the process server, it is critical that you carefully document this
type of delivery, including photos if possible. Also be sure that you know the
exact wording and meaning of your jurisdiction's regulations regarding this form
Delivery by substitution may be allowed if hand delivery is
impossible. This form of delivery involves leaving the papers with a responsible
adult who lives with the recipient, or a management level employee at his place
of work. There is often a procedure that must be followed prior to instituting
this type of process serving, and additional follow-up steps may be required.
Be certain that you understand the laws prior to using this form of process serving.
extreme cases, delivery by publication or electronic notification may be allowed.
However, this is normally reserved for cases in which the recipient simply cannot
be located. Tread very carefully, as this type of process service can easily be
Allowable Places, Times and Locations for Process
In some jurisdictions, you may serve the paperwork at any time,
in any location. However, special rules apply in some areas. You may not be permitted
to serve someone who is traveling to or from court. You may not be able to serve
papers on Sundays, although sometimes Sunday delivery is restricted only at the
person's home. Election Day and holidays may also be off limits.
also be able to use the law to your advantage. For example, in some jurisdictions
it is illegal for a worker to interfere with process serving against a co-worker.
If you live in such a jurisdiction, you may find it easiest to serve papers at
the recipient's workplace.
require a process server to be licensed and/or bonded. Some areas permit a process
server to carry a weapon for self defense. Some locations provide process servers
with a laminated ID, although use of the ID may itself be governed by a series
of procedural regulations. Before acting as a process server, it is very important
that you understand all of your jurisdictions laws, rules and regulations. Failure
to properly follow guidelines may sink the case, or even cause you to be personally
sued or prosecuted.