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Tips and Tricks for Process Servers

Process service does not always go as planned. If the intended recipient is aware of the procedures surrounding process service, and does not want to be served, the simple act of delivering papers can become a rather complicated cat and mouse game. This is when the process server's skills will be tested. Presented here are some tips and tricks that may work for you. Every situation is different, and every jurisdiction is bound by its individual set of laws and regulations. Be sure to check into the relevant laws in your area before using any of the suggestions presented here, and always seek the advice of a qualified attorney before using unusual methods of serving process.

Do Your Homework
It is important to find out as much as you can about an intended recipient. You will need to find his or her current address, employer, and daily routine. While it is generally easiest to serve process at the recipient's home, this is not always practical or even possible. Be sure not to violate any laws in your efforts, but try to gain as much knowledge as is legally possible.

It can even be helpful to obtain a description or photograph of the person to be served. Approaching with confidence and addressing the person with familiarity is often better than uncertainly approaching someone who may or not be the designated recipient.

Think Outside the Box
Your jurisdiction may not permit process service during certain hours or days, or at certain locations. Within the limits of the law, however, process service can happen in a surprising number of locations. Try to find an unexpected location at which you can serve process. Catch the recipient off guard if possible.

Use Props
It is generally illegal to impersonate anyone or use a disguise. However, it may be legal in your jurisdiction to use props to give the suggestion of being someone else. A classic example is a pizza box, though it is normally illegal to actually dress as a pizza delivery person and almost universally illegal to claim to be such. It may also be possible to order a pizza for the recipient and follow behind the delivery person. The laws on the use of props and the line that may not be crossed vary drastically between jurisdictions, so if you are considering using this method, be certain that you are on the right side of the law. Check with your attorney!

Enlist Outside Help
In some jurisdictions, it is legal to enter a gated community or locked apartment building if you receive the permission of someone who lives there. In this case, you may be able to obtain permission to enter from a neighbor who happens to be leaving. In some areas it is illegal for a co-worker to interfere with the service of process. If you are serving process in such an area, you may be able to enlist help to serve process at the person's place of business. Be sure that you research the relevant laws to ensure that you are using a legal procedure. Check with your attorney!

Serving process on someone who does not want to be served can be complicated. However, by knowing the law and thinking quickly, you may be able to outsmart the intended recipient. Remember to get legal advice from an attorney if you have any doubts and always err on the side of caution.

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