How Does a Process Server Locate Someone?

legal papers being served by a professional process server in the uk

Process serving is used to get legal documents in the hands of a specific person.  But it is about more than just dropping them off through their mailbox.  Some strict guidelines and requirements need to be followed and that’s why a process server is used.

But how does a process server locate someone?  And what happens if there is the odd occasion that someone can’t be served?  Let’s explore the situations.

The types of documents commonly served

The types of documents that a process server is required to serve can be varied and so can the methods they use to find the person.  Examples of the kinds of paperwork they are required to serve to include:

  • Statutory demands
  • Bankruptcy petitions
  • Claims forms
  • Divorce Petitions
  • Family and children’s’ proceedings
  • Injunction Orders
  • Tenant and landlord lease break notices
  • Housing Notices.

This means there’s a wide variety of situations for the process server to understand, along with a complex set of rules set down by the Court system to follow.  It is also why using a professional Firm, with the correct insurance, registered with the Data Protection Office is always the best.

How does a process server find someone?

Professional process servers will follow a series of steps to locate and serve the person concerned.  This will start with carrying out Due Diligence to ensure that the subject lives at the address or is at least a contactable address. This will be followed by visiting the address to see if they can serve them with the legal process.  Providing any of the following information can also play an important role in process server to locate and serve the subject.

  • Times when the subject is likely to be home
  • Work address
  • Vehicle details
  • Physical description or phot
  • Age or date of birth
  • Vehicle Index number
  • Mobile Phone number.

If the subject is not at the home address, and they have a listed place of employment or business, The Process server can go to these places to locate & serve them.  If the papers relate to business matters, then other places that documents can be served include, providing we have permission, or it is classed as a registered office:

  • LLP principal office of partnership or place of business
  • Company registered address in England and Wales
  • Corporation principal office or place of business where activities are carried out and there’s a connection to the claim
  • Any place in England and Wales where the business is carried out relating to the corporation.

There are situations where process servers can put documents through a letterbox for someone to receive.  But in most cases, they need to hand them or at least make them aware of the documents if they refuse to accept them.  There is often a time-sensitive nature to the documents, especially Injunction/children matters this means that they must be received within a certain time.

Once a person has been served with the papers, the process server will provide either a Certificate of Service, or a Sworn Affidavit this confirms the time and date the documents were served, along with any other information that the court may need to know. Such as if the subject was violent or made further threats.  This is then registered with the court before the hearing to show processes have been followed correctly, and that the subject has been served correctly.

Can process serving be avoided?

People often think that they can avoid being served with the documents and the whole issue will just go away but this isn’t the truth.  There are systems that a process server can use that means they have nearly always got a way to reach someone, including using Whatsapp or Facebook to deliver the documents, the court often accepts this medium if all other avenues have been exhausted.

The only way to avoid being served with legal documents is to avoid getting into the situation in the first place.  By taking steps such as staying on top of court dates, returning documents when required to do so, by taking steps to get help if bills can’t be paid or making arrangements if things like child support can’t be paid, then the need for a process server can be avoided.

What happens if the process server can’t find the person to be served?

If the initial steps are followed and the subject can’t be served, then there are further steps the process server can take to get the papers to the right person.

The process is known as a Substituted Service and there are a few different options available.  These are the last resort, only to be used if all attempts and other steps have been exhausted and some judges may not accept these methods.  But when you work with a professional firm, you can be confident these are used in the right way.

Newspaper service

This is a less reliable system but one that can be permitted in some situations.  This involves placing adverts in local newspapers that notifies the recipient of the document service.  The process server does need to know the local area of the person to ensure the correct local newspaper is used.

Social media service

The least commonly accepted method is the social media service.  This is where notice of service is given through a social media site such as Facebook or Twitter where the recipient can see it.  The proof is required of the post and not all judges will consider it.

International service

Process servers usually work within a country but have connections with others in different countries.  This allows them to pass documents to ensure they are delivered abroad or to citizens of other countries.  These will need to follow the rules of the country the papers are being served in.

Why you shouldn’t process serve documents yourself

It can be tempting in some situations to try to save money and serve the documents yourself.  But this isn’t a good idea because this is a complicated process and if anything isn’t done following the correct procedures, along with which as the person who may have issued the document it could be seen that you have a vested interest, this could be questioned at court,  it can also result in the case not going forward or even being dismissed entirely.

Using a Professional firm is the best solution for you to get your legal papers served.  This way you can be certain that all the required processes are followed, and the right proof is supplied for the Court.  Using a professional firm dramatically reduces the chance that the Judge won’t accept the service of papers or there are any delays in the case.

Have the job done correctly

Here at Able Investigations & Enforcements, we have never had a case thrown out of court in 27 years because of our professionalism, standards, and statements supplied, we adhere to all CPR Rules, so we can help you serve papers, even within 24 hours, anywhere in the UK or worldwide.

We offer UK Process Serving at a fixed fee of £125 + VAT and can offer a discount on volume work (more than 10 cases a week). Why not get in touch with our experienced team to discuss your requirements or if you require more information.

Call us on 0845 370 7401 or fill out our contact form.

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