what is service process
Service of process means delivering a copy of the papers you file with the Court to the Defendant.
If you have a filed a new lawsuit, you are required to serve the papers in accordance with Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 4. There are two ways to effectuate service under Rule 4.
First. The Plaintiff files a complaint and summons with the Court and then serves those papers on the Defendant within one hundred and twenty days.
Second. The Plaintiff serves the complaint and summons on the Defendant before filing with the Court. In that case, the Plaintiff then has 10 days to file the complaint and summons with the Court after service of process.
If the case has already started, the Plaintiff is required to serve papers in accordance with Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 5.
who can serve process?
A number of different people are legally able to service process issued by Utah Courts, including:
- Peace officers
- Sheriffs and deputy sheriffs
- Constables and constables’ deputies
- State-employed investigators who are authorized to serve process
- Licensed private investigators
Professional process servers, however, do charge for service of process. Their fees vary depending on what and when they are serving.
In addition, with some restrictions, any person over 18 who is not a party to the case or who is not a party’s lawyer is able to serve process of the following documents:
- Complaints and Petitions
- Small Claims Affidavits and Summonses
Side note. A person convicted of a felony sex offense pursuant to Utah Code section 77-41-102(17)cannot serve process. And a person who is a respondent to a protective order proceeding pursuant to Utah Code section 78B-7 is also prohibited from serving any form of process.
a proof of service must be filed with the court
A Proof of Service is required for all papers filed with the Court. Whether you use a professional process server or someone else, the Plaintiff is required to ensure that a proof of service is filed with the Court. Your case will not be at issue until you can establish to the Court that the parties have all been served.
The purpose of a proof of service is to establish when, where, and how the Defendant was served with the complaint and summons. The person who serves the complaint and summons must complete a Proof of Service document sometimes referred to as an Affidavit of Service. It will state the address of where the Defendant was served; the time of service; a description of the person who accepted service; and contact information for the person who served the complaint and summons.
You are required to mail a copy of the completed Proof of Service form to the Defendant or the Defendant’s lawyer and file the original with the Court.
Certain types of case have special requirements for service of process. You can learn more about those cases through the Court’s Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP).
For example, cases where contempt of Court or a warrant are possible sanctions require personal service of process, including an Order to Show Cause, Supplemental Orders and bench warrants in civil cases.
You can take a look at Service of Process in the Utah Code for special service requirement in cases involving parties who are in the military and cases involving adoption, guardianship, and landlord tenant cases.
Mail a copy of the completed Proof of Service form, along with a Certificate of Service form, to the other party (or lawyer if the other party has a lawyer). Then file the original Proof of Service and Certificate of Service with the Court. Those forms are available on the Forms section of the Court’s website.
serving the complaint and summons
Service of process may be accomplished personally or through the mail. Sometimes the Court will allow alternative service of process, which is discussed below.
Personal service of process means physically handing the Defendant copies of the Complaint and Summons. The rules associated with personal service of process are set forth in Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 4(d)(1).
The Complaint and Summons may be personally served by a sheriff, a constable, a U.S. Marshal, or by any person 18 or older who is:
- not party to the case or who is not a lawyer for a party to the case,
- not been convicted of a felony sex offense listed in Utah Code section 77-41-102(16), or
- not a respondent to a protective order pursuant to Utah Code section 78B-7-101 et seq.).
As outlined above, you are prohibited from serving documents in your own case.
If the Defendant cannot be found, the Complaint and Summons may be personally served to any adult who resides in the Defendant’s home. If the Defendant is a business, the Complaint and Summons may be served on the company’s manager or any other person in charge of the office.
service by mail
You can also effectuate service of process by mailing the Complaint and Summons to the Defendant. You can use the U.S. Postal Service or commercial services like FedEx or UPS. The rules associated with personal service of process are set forth in Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 4(d)(2).
If you are serving by mail, you have to send the Complaint and Summons certified or otherwise require that the Defendant sign for the documents. The documents must be sent by a method that requires the respondent to sign for the delivery.
Service is not effective if someone other than the Defendant signs for the delivery. The signature must be filed along with the Proof of Service with the Court.
acceptance of service
Another way to effectuate service is to ask the Defendant if he or she is willing to accept service of process. If the Defendant agrees, the Plaintiff is not required to follow the strict requirements set forth in Rule 4. Instead, the Plaintiff may simply file with the Court an Acceptance of Service form signed by the Defendant. In it the Defendant acknowledges that he or she received the Complaint and Summons, but does not waive any rights or defenses to the action.
The Defendant then has 21 days (if served in Utah; 30 days if served outside of Utah) from the date he or she sign the Acceptance of Service to file his or her Answer to the Complaint with the Court.
If the Plaintiff is unable to locate the Defendant for service or process, or if the Plaintiff believes that the Defendant is avoiding service, the Court may allow for alternative service. The rules associated with personal service of process are set forth in Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 4(d)(5).
The Plaintiff is required to use “reasonable diligence” in attempting to serve the Defendant before requesting leave for alternative service. If the Plaintiff uses reasonable diligence and still cannot serve the Defendant, the Plaintiff may file a Motion for Leave for Alternative Service with the Court, asking to serve the Defendant by publication or some other alternative means.
If you have been injured and need to serve process in Utah, call Shane immediately. He has significant experience litigating personal injury cases. He represents injured clients in catastrophic injury cases throughout Utah. To schedule a consultation call 385-429-9960 or text 801-200-1578.