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3 Surprising Rules that Process Servers Have to Follow

While it is entertaining to think about process servers running around in disguises, delivering a pizza box full of court paperwork to unsuspecting defendants who then explode in rage, this is just not reality. In the real world, private process servers are professionals in the legal industry who must adhere to laws, regulations, and ethical principles. In this post, we’ll go over 3 rules that process servers must follow that might surprise you:

Using a private process server for in-person service must be approved by a judge before said service is attempted

There’s some controversy about this one, but if you read Rule 4 of North Carolina’s Rules of Civil Procedure, it states that civil process should be served by the sheriff of the county where the service is to be made, or some other person duly authorized by NC law. Now, you may be thinking that a private process server would be someone duly authorized by law to serve process in NC, but that’s not the case, as evidenced by the rulings in Locklear, 822 S.E.2d at 593 in the NC Court of Appeals. This is because there is no approval, certification, or registration process for private process servers in North Carolina, so they are not authorized by law to do anything, technically. The only time a private process server may be used to serve process in a civil case is if the local sheriff is unavailable, unwilling, or neglects to effect service. This doesn’t mean that if the sheriff misses a deadline that a process server can just step in and take over. An affidavit explaining the need for a private process server must be filed and reviewed by a judge, who will then decide if the requirements to use a private process server have been met. If approved, the plaintiff may use anyone who meets NC’s minimum standards for a process server to serve the process in their case.

Process cannot be served electronically

Section j6 of Rule 4 in NC’s Rules of Civil Procedure very clearly states that the process may not be served electronically in any fashion. Even though an electronic receipt may be used as proof of service (using one of the approved service methods), the process itself may not be delivered by electronic means, which includes email, fax, social media message, forum post, or any other electronic transmission method.

Alternative service must be approved by a judge before attempting

Sometimes, no matter how hard a process server searches, they just cannot find the process recipient. In these cases, service by mail or authorized delivery services is usually the next step, but these aren’t always successful either. If all traditional methods of serving process fail, process servers still have an option – service by publication. However, this alternative service method must be approved by a judge before anything is actually published. Much like the process to use a private process server, the plaintiff must file an affidavit with the court explaining the need for alternative service. With this affidavit, they must file evidence that they have diligently searched for the defendant(s) to no avail. A judge will then review the affidavit and make a determination on whether they believe alternative service is justified. If a process server publishes a notice for the defendant before a judge approves the alternative service, then that publication is not valid and must be republished after approval.

Quality Private Process Servers in Charlotte

If you have a process for a civil case that the local sheriff’s office cannot deliver, we have the solution. For the best private process servers in Charlotte and surrounding areas, look no further than Accurate Serve. Give us a call at (704) 858-2952 or send us a work request online to get started today.