Process servers know they must carefully follow California statutes and regulations that mandate precisely how to serve process in a variety of situations and what to include in a proof of service filed with the court under penalty under perjury.
But just as important for the process server is the creation and maintenance of complete and accurate records of each case of service attempted or made. First, if a person in a lawsuit challenges the service of process, the server must be able to demonstrate its validity. Second, government regulators are stepping up efforts to oversee the profession and want proof that process servers are performing their duties correctly.
Record-Keeping: Vital to Defending Service Against a Challenge
Valid service of process is a prerequisite for a lawsuit to proceed. So it is not uncommon for a named defendant to take the earliest opportunity to stop or delay the litigation. That person may file a motion to quash the service of the summons and the complaint. In the motion, that person may allege one or more of the following: (1) that he or she was not served at all, (2) he or she was not served by a valid method under law or in a correct manner, or (3) that the proof of service is incomplete or incorrect.
To uphold the validity of the service, the process server must be able to show that a consistent, quality record-keeping system is in place and that proper practices under law are always followed. This gives credibility to the server in defending this particular instance of service of process; that is, to show that service was validly made, and that the filed proof of service is technically complete and sufficient.
Regulators are Stepping up Oversight of Process Servers
Another reason for good record-keeping is that government authorities around the nation are stepping up efforts to look beyond the documents filed by process servers – to make sure that service was actually made.
Regulators have become increasingly concerned in recent years about a practice they have dubbed “sewer service”: a failure to serve the documents despite a proof of service declaring that service was completed.
For instance, the New York City's Department of Consumer Affairs (NYCDCA) issued more than 300 subpoenas on process servers for their records on their global positioning systems (GPS). Earlier, the NYCDCA had claimed “sewer service” was common, leading the City Council to pass an ordinance requiring GPS tracking to verify the servers were in the locations on the dates and at the times specified in proofs of service. The due date for the return on the subpoenas has passed, and undoubtedly there will be significant follow-up enforcement and penalties in appropriate cases.
This type of increased scrutiny and oversight can be expected in all jurisdictions in the U.S., including California.
For these reasons, establishing a comprehensive record-keeping system is a fundamental part of the job of every competent, professional process server that benefits the legal system, all of the parties, and the server.
Our registered process servers know and understand the complex laws of process-serving. Connect with us today for more information on how we can help you file and serve your legal documents in California, or throughout the nation.