PROPER SERVICE MEANS PROPER PROTECTION

The service of injunction or non-molestation papers from the Courts are typically served by process servers or private investigators, indeed most process servers are private investigators and most private investigators serve process on behalf of the Courts in the UK.

As process servers we collect the service documents from our instructing Solicitors or from the issuing desk at the relevant County or Magistrates Court. The clock is, “Always ticking”, on these matters and our task is to effect personal service upon the respondent at the earliest opportunity.  The applicant is the party that seeks the protection of the Court…

It takes a particular skill set to manage all the variables and challenges – the Respondent may not be sat at home with his or her feet up, and you may need to use every ounce of experience you have to track them down. One advantage the process server has is that most injunction orders are issued by the court as “Ex Parte”; this means that the respondent has no actual prior knowledge – although he or she might well suspect that they are on their way. All the, “People skills” that you have picked up along the way will be brought to bear – although the popular image is that the respondent will be drunk, or violent when encountered, the true situation encountered is often of confusion and even fear…

Communication is vital to ensure that enough information has been passed to the various parties involved. Report and liaise with your instructing Solicitor or the applicant – initially with interim reports if there is difficulty in effecting the serve. The reporting of, “Papers personally served”, is especially important as the parties need to know that the protection of the Court is in place.

The Family Justice Council has just issued a useful guide for Process Servers called: Protocol for Process Servers: Non-molestation Orders – this guide sets out the procedures and standards that we all need to work to. Due to problems centred around disputed service, language issues, identification and the like the new protocol codifies things:

  1. The FJC require that: Service must be direct and personal and some attempt must be made to hand the papers to the respondent. If personal service cannot be effected the respondent can be notified by telephone or told directly about the matter in some other way.
  2. The Process Server must prepare a Statement of Service setting out when and where the respondent was served and exact manner in which he or she was served. A separate Statement of Service is required for the Police when a copy of the Power of Arrest (Form FL404a or FL406) is lodged with them.
  3. To comply with the legal requirements of the Criminal Courts all statements of service should have the following wording: “Criminal Justice Act 1967, s9; Magistrates Courts Act 1908ss5A93 (a) &5B; Magistrates Courts Rules 1981 Rule 70″. As well as: “This statement consisting of _ pages each signed by me, is true to the best of my knowledge and belief and I make it knowing that if it is tendered in evidence I shall be liable to prosecution if I have wilfully stated anything which I know to be false or do not believe to be true. Signed ……”
  4. The statement or proof of service must contain a description of the respondent, as seen by the process server and a detailed description of service or the attempt at service.

The document referred to is available here.

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