What is a process server?

A process server is a person who hand delivers or “serves” documents of a legal nature, on a person or company who is involved in a court case. When being served, the person or company is referred to as the defendant, plaintiff or witness. As a process server, once successfully serving legal documents, we are required to provide proof of service in the form of an affidavit of service which is witnessed by authorised witness such as a Justice of the Peace, Lawyer or Commissioner for Declarations. Laws relating to process serving can differ from state to state in accordance with the original jurisdiction of the documentation and who is being served.

How Is Process Serving Done?

Legal documents are received by us which are to be served upon the defendant, plaintiff or witness. Rules surrounding the  serving of documentation can be complicated, as rules for many document types and jurisdictions are different. When it comes to the actual methods of service they include personal service, ordinary Service and substituted service.

What Is Personal Service?

As the name implies, the process server hands the documents directly to the person being served, and that person takes the document. Prior to effecting personal service though, identification of the person being served is required before the document exchange can occur.

To properly identify the person, we need to confirm their date of birth, full and correct name, and asking  if they are the person referred to within the documentation. Additional  identification can be obtained by matching the person being served with a recent photograph.

What To Do If a Person Refuses To Be Served In Person?

There are times when the person receiving the documents will simply refuse to do so. Once proper identification has been completed by the steps mentioned above, the person refusing to accept service by hand can actually be served by having the documents left at their feet. As a process server we are required to provide an explantion to the person that they are being served via this process as they were refusing to accept service by hand.

In the event that the person refuses to identify themselves, a recent photograph is invaluable as we can then leave the documents on the floor in front of them and advise them they have been identified via a photograph.

What is Ordinary Service?

Ordinary service can be effected by leaving documents with an adult also residing at the address. Ordinary service can also be effected by leaving the documents at an address if no one is at the address, in a position where it is  likely to be seen by the person. It’s important to note that ordinary service is not available in all jurisdictions or for all documentation. ments and jurisdictions.

What Happens If A Person Has Moved and Can’t Be Served?

There are other options available if a process server can confirm that the person has moved from the address they have been given. Further investiation and skip tracing skills are needed to locate the new address for service.

A competent and experienced process server know what questions to ask in order to gain this new information.  

What Are My Choices If The Person Avoids Being Served?

In this scenario, substituted service is where we as the process server provides evidence that it is impractical to serve a person under the circumstance  where the person is avoiding service and has done so on several occasions.  It is important to note that a court will only grant substituted service once a process server has attempted service and can provide sufficient evidence that it is impracticable to serve the documents under the prescribed law, and that the method of service proposed will bring the documents to the person’s attention.

How Much Does Process Serving Cost?

The cost of process serving varies depending upon where the documents are being served, the number of people required to be served and the number of times a process server is required to attend an address. To provide an estimate, in capital citie throughout Australia the cost of process serving starts at $90/person and address. As a general rule of thumb process servers charge one fee per address and include up to three attempts of service at the same address.

What Can’t A Process Server Do?

There are quite a few things a process server cannot do by law and really should not attempt to do for ethical reasons. Listed below are what we consider to be the big things a process server should never do.  

  • Break and Enter

A process server cannot under any circumstances break into and enter a property unlawfully in orde to serve documentation on a defendant, plaintiff or witness. They must adhere to the rules at all times and under no cirumstances follow someone to private property.

  • Impersonate A Police Officer

A process server cannot impersonate a police officer or any other officer of the court in order to force someone to open a door. In no way at all can a process server misrepresent themselves or skew in any way the reason they are attending at an address in order to coerce  a person to open a door. A process server must always identify themselves to the person being served and advise them of the reason that they are there.

  • Threatening Behaviour When Serving Documents

A process server cannot use behaviour that is threatening in anyway nor can they harrass a person in order to have that person open their door and potentially accept service of legal documentation.

  • Must NotLeave Documents With An Under-Age Person

Almost every state requires that documents be served on a person no younger than 16 years however you will find that in some states it is necessary that the person being served is at least 18 years of age.