When serving papers, situations sometimes arise that test a server’s moral compass, but how you conduct yourself is what allows a job to be completed properly and with professionalism.

When You Know the Plaintiff: In most cases, this can be beneficial to serving  documents because this provides a direct source to someone who knows the most about the defendant. Make sure you ask for any information the Plaintiff knows about the person that needs to be served. The more information you have, the easier your job could end up being.

When You Know the Defendant: When you know the defendant, it could prove to be a stickier situation. Many people would choose not to serve someone they know, citing a conflict of interest, while others may feel that they can responsibly serve someone they know without it becoming an issue. Some process servers may feel comfortable enough to arrange a meeting with someone they know in order to serve the papers, but is it wise to potentially walk into a situation that could quickly turn sour ? Don’t risk your position as a credible reliable process server to spare the feelings of someone you know. If you choose to serve someone you know and then not follow through, you might be asked why you didn’t give the defendant their papers. A simple explanation of company and industry ethics should be good enough. But then do you tell the defendant they’re about to be served? This is probably not the best idea, as you’re giving the warning that papers are coming, which could lead to evading service.

Receiving Papers to Serve on a Client or Someone Who Works for Your Client: There are a few different ways to approach the handling of these papers. In instances where you need to serve a lawyer as a registered agent for another company, treat it as any other serve and be professional. Additionally, you could come across having to serve papers for a client that you’ve worked with for another business. Consider  

When it’s necessary to serve papers upon an individual who works for a client, call your client and let them know of the situation. See if you can arrange a time for the process server and employee to meet privately in order to give the employee a sense of privacy. If your client refuses to allow service of their employee, accept their decision and continue to attempt service at a home address.

One of our servers encountered the issue of knowing the person that he had to serve papers to.
Upon arriving at the business, he realized that the person to be served had the same  last name of a cousin whose married name he hadn’t recognized. Given that he was already there and talking to her, he proceeded with the service and pointed out that he wasn’t going to discuss work with friends or family, in order to make it clear this would not be mentioned to anyone in their family. In an unexpected situation, our server was able to maintain a professional image and also respect the client and family member’s privacy.


By: Sarah Masa-Myers