Have you ever watched a movie where someone hands legal documents to a person and says, “You’ve been served”? Well, it happens in real life, too, and the professionals who serve someone a court summons are called “process servers.”
It's probably not a job you've read up on. But once you require their services to serve legal papers to a person or business, they become a crucial component of the legal machine.
Here’s everything you need to know about professional process servers and why you should consider their aid.
What Is a Process Server?
When it comes to legal proceedings, serving legal documents to another party (such as summons and complaints) is essential in ensuring that everyone involved in a legal case is notified of their responsibilities and obligations.
A process server is a person who serves court documents to individuals or businesses that take part in a legal case. They are also referred to as legal couriers or legal document servers.
Such documents may include a court summons/action, such as a property partition hearing, a divorce hearing, and/or protection (restraining) orders. A judge cannot hear a case until all parties involved have been given paperwork notifying them.
A process server's responsibility is to ensure that legal documents are served in respect of laws and regulations in the jurisdiction where the case takes place. To complete their job, they must understand the legal processes that rule their work.
Although anyone can technically serve legal documents to another party, professional process servers have certain knowledge and skills that most don’t. When utilizing an untrained server, someone could easily contest the delivery, which triggers the whole process to be stopped or slowed down dramatically.
Why Are Professional Process Servers Important?
In the legal system, serving documents is a crucial portion of the process. Process servers are in charge of this part and need to find a way for the papers to be delivered in hand to the person involved or representing the legal entity that is part of the legal process taking place.
Process servers must identify the recipient and deliver the legal documents to them as part of their work. Although it may seem like an easy task, often it isn't.
The person being served may do everything he or she can to avoid receiving said documents. This situation is one of the most critical reasons why professional process servers should deliver legal documents.
Another reason process servers are important is that they play a crucial role in the justice system. Without them, people might not receive legal documents, which can have extreme effects, including default judgments or other adverse outcomes.
If someone ignores a legal notice, the case might be ruled against them simply because they did not comply. If it weren't for process servers, the due process of law would be compromised.
How Does the Process of Serving Legal Documents Work?
Process servers follow several steps when serving court documents.
The first part of their work is to identify the person they will encounter and serve the documents to. In the language employed by process servers, that person is often called the “respondent.”
By uncovering the respondent's identity, the process server can start the next step: researching locations where he can be found. The home and workplace of the respondent will be the first targets, but the process server may need to extend their search to places that the person visits frequently, such as a gym.
A process server will use a large variety of methods to locate the respondent, which often starts with an internet search. Today, social media reveals a lot about where a person can be found, and it is often the single source that process servers need to find a way to deliver their documents.
Alternatively, they may research public records. If they can't seem to be able to pin a person down, they can also ask neighbors or coworkers about the respondent's usual whereabouts.
However, all this may not be sufficient if the recipient does not want to be found, which means that the process server will move on to more advanced search techniques, including surveillance.
The next step takes place once the recipient is located. This is when the process server sets out to deliver the legal documents. If the respondent is personally responsible in the case, the documents will have to be served directly to them.
However, if the respondent represents a legal entity, the process server can also deliver the documents to a person who can accept the documents for him, such as a receptionist, an administrative assistant, or even a mailroom clerk.
Whether the person accepts the summons or throws it away doesn't matter at this point. Once they have been served, the Court has successfully notified them of their legal obligation to respond.
The last part of the work of a process server is extremely important: providing proof of service.
While delivering the documents is important, if the process server does not provide proof of service, the court won't be able to confirm the reception of the documents if the respondent contests such reception. The proof of service is an essential document that must be submitted to the court to allow the case to proceed.
Why It’s Better to Use Professional Process Servers to Deliver Legal Documents
There are several reasons why it’s vital to use professional process servers to deliver legal documents. The first is to respect the legal process itself.
Professional process servers are certified and trained in legal processes and procedures. They understand the repercussions that can come with an improper delivery of legal documents, so they ensure that each step is respected to ensure that the law process can continue once they deliver proof of service.
When you hire a firm with professional employees, it’s a guarantee that deadlines and jurisdictional requirements will be met. They understand the legal process and ensure that they follow all requirements of serving legal documents.
Furthermore, professional process servers are known for their discretion. They always maintain confidentiality when serving legal documents, which is an absolute priority in this line of work. If such discretion is broken, it would significantly compromise the case.
The techniques these professionals have learned make them efficient at finding the person who needs to be served, even if they try evasive techniques. Once they have located and delivered the documents, they know exactly how to provide proof of delivery to the court, which details the delivery and receipt of the documents.
Since this document is necessary in a court of law to serve as legal proof that the respondent was rightfully notified, using professional process servers is a must to ensure that all goes well.
Professional process servers' experience, training, and skills are essential for any formal legal action and help guarantee successful court proceedings.
They play a necessary role in the legal system, ensuring that all parties involved in a legal proceeding are served with the appropriate legal documents and notified of their legal responsibilities.
If you or your company need to serve official court documents, professional process servers are an invaluable asset.