How a Process Server serves documents

Process Serving Information Sheet

How does a Process Server serve documents?

The method used to serve documents varies according to the type of documents being served so this article will look at how we ensure legal service of the most common documents we are instructed to serve.

What is important is that your documents are served in accordance with Court Procedure Rules (CPR) and Practice Direction (PD) so as to ensure your matter can progress without any unnecessary delay.

Failure to comply with these guidelines can result in delays and possibly the need to have your documents served again so it is important you instruct an experienced process server to serve your documents.

The most common ways to serve documents

Personal Service

This is probably the way most documents are served as if the Process Server physically hands over the documents there can be no question whether the person being served has received them. This method of service is often required by the Court.

When serving documents personally the process server will initially confirm the identity of the person being served before making them aware of what the documents relate to. They will also make them aware of any upcoming Hearing date.

The process server will also make them aware that if they are unsure of their rights, they should seek legal advice.

Occasionally the person being served refuses to accept the documents but they cannot avoid service by doing this. Once they have been identified and made aware of the documents then if they receive to take the documents they are still legally served by leaving the documents at their feet.

Letterbox or Substituted Service

Some types of documents can be legally served by leaving them through the letterbox at the property on the first visit and some documents can be left be left at the address on the second or third visit if there is no reply.

If the documents being served do not allow for service by leaving them through the letterbox and the process server is unable to meet with the person being served so as to effect personal service then we will provide a detailed Statement of Attempted Service detailing the dates and times that we attended at the service address, details of any conversations with individuals at the property and confirmation that the individual being served remains a resident at the address.

You will then generally be able to use this Statement to support an Application for letterbox or electronic service so that your matter can progress.

Electronic Service

Whilst electronic service has always been possible it has become much more common since the 2020/21 lockdowns when it was often not practical to effect personal service of documents.

Generally to effect service of documents electronically you will require an Order from the Court confirming that service can be effected by electronic (or alternative) means which is generally taken to mean by WhatsApp or email although we do on occasion come across matters which have an Order allowing for service by Facebook.

 With effecting service electronically, it is usually a requirement that an acknowledgment of service is received.

With WhatsApp this usually requires two blue ticks being visible or a reply from the recipient confirming receipt of the documents.

Where service has been effected by email the Court will likely require a ‘Read’ receipt or email from the individual served acknowledging receipt.

The next steps

Once the documents have been served you will require a proof of service in a Court compliant format so your matter can progress to the next stage.

This may be a Statement or Certificate of Service or in some matters you may require an Affidavit of Service.

In summary we must say that the method of service required does vary from document to document so if you are unsure what is required in your matter please contact us and we will be able to confirm the service requirements.

We are not legally qualified and cannot provide legal advice but can provide procedural advice as to how your documents should be served.

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