Process Service by e-mail
Article by Mark Peachman
I have personally done process service by email on several occasions and see no problem with it in limited circumstances.
When I’ve done it, it has always been readily accepted by the Courts. I think the key point is to clearly set out the full circumstances in your proof of service.
As process servers we have a duty to do everything legally possible to bring documentation to the attention of the intended recipient.
Email service would generally be a last resort when all else has failed.
Personally I would never consider it without first making telephone contact with the Respondent/Debtor or other intended recipient. Assuming they confirm their ID, but for whatever reason decline to meet, then ask them if they have an email address. If yes, obtain their confirmation that they are the sole person who has access to the email address.
Verbally advise them of the documentation you have for them, stressing key points, such as hearing details, any deadline or Penal Notice. Tell them that you intend emailing the documents to them and confirm that they are happy to receive in that manner. Request that they should confirm receipt by email.
Scan the service documentation and attach it to a clear concise email, which refers to your telephone call to them and requests they acknowledge receipt by email. Ensure that the email subject line says something like “Strictly Private & Confidential FAO xxxxxxx only”. Set the email priority as “Highest” and do a read receipt.
If the email acknowledgment doesn’t come through, then phone them again and try to elicit confirmation that they have received and again request a short email confirmation.
Produce a detailed proof of service setting out the full circumstances – attempts to personally serve, the telephone contact, how the email address was secured, subsequent confirmation of receipt etc.
The proof of service should attach printouts of the service email and any email response.
Personally I feel email service only works well if the person you’re trying to serve is cooperating.
I don’t consider myself a process serving expert, but come next May I have been serving documents for 40 years, the first having been a High Court Writ when I was 16! I am a great believer in common-sense and total transparency. Whenever I’ve adopted service methods which could be interpreted as “unorthodox”, I’ve always set out everything in detail in my proof of service. I think that is the key and I’ve never experienced problems with service not being accepted.
Hope that helps.
Author and full reference:
The Association of British Investigators Ltd
The Brentano Suite, Catalyst House, Centennial Park, Elstree, WD6 3SY
+44 (0) 20 8191 7500
Published by: Baltic Security