What happens if court papers are served late?

No matter what kind of litigation process you need to complete, serving court papers at the right time and without delay is essential. Whether you are taking someone to court to recover a debt or are obtaining an eviction court order against one of your tenants or even against squatters, it is crucial for court papers to be served timely, & in the correct manner otherwise, the case might be thrown out by the judge.

Serving papers under the Civil Procedure Rules

There are multiple methods when it comes to serving papers in the British legal system, and they are all based on the fundamental principle that a party is entitled to be informed of the nature of the case taken against them.

Special rules may apply to different types of documents, but the general rule is to serve the papers via ordinary pre-paid post. In some specific instances, such as bankruptcy, for example, a copy of the petition needs to be served to the debtor in person.

a collection of papers

Whilst first class post is an acceptable way to serve certain papers, it does give the defendant the opportunity of denying that s/he ever received them. Therefore, it is more prudent and will in the end save time to have documents served by a properly qualified process server.

Common methods of serving papers

The Civil Procedure Rules outline the different methods of serving papers that may be used by the party who is taking the other party to court. First class post is the usual method of serving, but you may also opt for a personal service to handle the document physically to the party in question. If the other party is a corporation or a limited company, the papers can be served to the person with the most senior position.

For some methods of delivering papers, you may need to obtain consent first. For example, if you want to serve the papers via fax, email, or document exchange, you may need the consent of the other party. Finally, you need to make sure that the documents are delivered to the correct address.

Deemed dates of service

No matter what delivery method you opt for, it is essential to serve the papers within a specific time limit, which may differ according to various types of proceedings.

The deemed date of service refers to the date the papers are deemed to be served. In some cases, there are very strict time limits in place for serving papers, and the deemed date of service is relevant for the purpose of court proceedings.

first class

The deemed dates for service are the day it was handed to the party for personal service, unless the papers were served after 16:00 hrs., in which case the deemed service date is the following working day; the second day after the document was posted in the case of first class post, the same day for fax deliveries made before 16:00 hrs and if sent later, the next business day; the day after it was left at an address; and the second day after an email was sent.

To make sure the court papers are served on time, it is a good idea to use the services of Able Investigations, who can deliver the documents for you with process serving, on time every time.

For more information, get in touch with our team on 0345 366 0000 or fill out our contact form.


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