California Allows Service of Documents By Fax

Smiling woman using a photocopierThroughout a lawsuit, each party is required to make sure that other parties are notified of all proceedings and given copies of all documents filed with the court. This requirement to “serve” notice of court-filed documents can be met through a variety of methods. California courts now permit service by fax in addition to more traditional methods like service by mail.

Special Rules for Fax Service:

There are, though, special rules and requirements governing service of notice of court papers through facsimile transmission (fax).

Parties Must Agree to Fax Service:

Service by fax is governed by CCP sections 1013(e) and (f) along with California Rules of Court (“CRC”) Rule 2.306. It states that service by “facsimile transmission” is permitted “only where the parties agree and a written confirmation of that agreement is made.”

Fax Service Data Accuracy:

It is important to make sure that the fax numbers on court documents are updated regularly. CCP section 1013(e) requires that a document served by fax be sent to the fax telephone number “as last given by that person on any document which he or she has filed in the case and served on the party making the service.”

CRC Rule 2.306(b) imposes a special duty on the “first-named plaintiff or petitioner” to keep and maintain an updated fax number list for everyone in the case, and a corresponding duty of the other parties to give that list-holder the most current fax numbers. If a new party is brought into the case, that new party must be given that group fax list.

Fax Service Operation:

Any party or attorney who agrees to accept service by fax must keep the fax machine turned on during normal business hours (9 am to 5 pm) or otherwise be able to receive served documents.
Service of any document by fax is “complete on transmission of the entire document to the receiving party’s fax machine.” CCP section 1013(f); CRC Rule 2.306(g). Fax service that is “completed” after 5 pm is treated as having been served the next day.

There are some additional requirements for the proof of service, which “may be made by any of the methods provided in [CCP] section 1013(a), except that” the time, date, and sending fax telephone number must be included, as well as the name and fax telephone number of the person served.

Further, there must also be a “...statement that the document was sent by fax transmission and that the transmission was reported as complete and without error...” In addition, “a copy of the transmission report must be attached...and the proof of service must declare that the transmission report was properly issued by the sending fax machine.” CRC Rule 2.306(h).

If these procedures are not followed, then service of papers by fax is ineffective. This rule uses the phrase “fully conform,” suggesting that substantial or partial compliance with this rule may be insufficient. The most current Judicial Council form proofs of service include this special language. See, for example, “Proof of Service-Civil” - Judicial Council Form POS-040 (Rev. July 1, 2011).]

Direct Legal Support, Inc. can assist you with delivering notifications of all proceedings and documents filed with the court to opposing counsel. Not only will we file your court documents, but we will provide the opposing party with the documents filed pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure (“CCP”) sections 1013(e)-(g). Take a look at our Court Filing Services for more information.

Sources: CCP section 1013; CRC Rule 2.306; California Judicial Council Forms - Proof of Service