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 include:

  • Statutory demands
  • Bankruptcy petitions
  • Claims forms
  • Divorce petitions
  • Family and children’s’ proceedings
  • Injection orders
  • Tenant and landlord lease break notices

This means there’s a wide variety of situations for the process server to handle and a complex set of rules to follow.  It is also why using a professional is always the best.

How does a process server find someone?

Professional process servers will follow a series of steps to locate and reach the person.  This will start with visiting their homes to see if they can locate them.  Providing any of the following information can also play an important role for process server to locate somone:

  • Times when the subject is likely to be home
  • Work address
  • Vehicle details
  • Physical description or photo
  • Age or date of birth

If they can’t find them at home and they have a listed place of employment or business, they can go to these places to locate them them. If the papers relate to business matters, then other places that documents can be served include:

  • 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 to the person to confirm they have been received.  There is often a time-sensitive nature to the papers that mean 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, a Statement of Service or a Sworn Affidavit that confirms the time and date the documents were served.  This is registered with the court before the hearing to show processes have been followed correctly.

Can process serving be avoided?

People often think that they can avoid process serving 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.

The only way to avoid a process server is to avoid getting into the situation in the first place.  By taking steps such as staying on top of court dates and paperwork required, 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 person 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 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 process server, you can be confident these are used in the right way.

Third-party service

A third party service involves serving the documents to a family member, close friend, employer or even a neighbour.  The same steps apply where the documents must be physically handed to someone and proof of delivery obtained.  The person accepting the documents is then legally responsible for ensuring the individual receives them.

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.

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.  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 some 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 laws, it can result in the case not going forward or even being dismissed entirely.

Using Professional process servers is the best solution to get your legal papers served.  This way you can be certain that all the required processes are followed and the right prof is collected.  Using a professional process server dramatically reduces the chance that the judge won’t accept service of papers or there is any delays.

Have the job done correctly

At Able Investigations, we have never had a case thrown out of court in 20 years because of our statements, 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). Get in touch with our experienced process serving 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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