What is “process service” and who is an authorized “process server?”

Process service is a legal procedure in which the plaintiff in a civil court case officially makes the defendant aware of the pending legal action. In Oregon, “process service” includes providing the defense with a copy of all the plaintiff’s documents contained in the court filing. Service of process is an integral part of any civil lawsuit, as a failure to serve the defendant with a copy of all filed documents can mean that the court may dismiss the lawsuit.    

A “process server” is the person who delivers the notification to the defendant alerting him/her as to the legal action being taken against them. Due process requires that each person involved to be fully informed of court actions and that that they receive the documents about the court action. In Oregon, anyone over the age of 18 years and not a party to the court case is authorized to be a “process server.”

While no specialized training or licensing is required to be a “process server,” service of process can be tricky. “In-person” (and to the named person) delivery of court documents is by far the preferred method of service, but it is not the only method available. Circumstances may require service via different means. It is knowing when one of these other methods is allowed and available that may be crucial to successful service. Whichever method of service is used, an “Affidavit of Service” must be filled out and submitted back to the court as proof of service and is evidence that the defendant has been made aware of the lawsuit.

Process service can become complicated when a person is aware of the pending lawsuit and does not want to be served with the legal documents. People avoiding service (by leaving town or just not answering their doors) can cause significant delays in starting a court case. Private investigators and professional process servers can save time, money, and effort when it comes to successful service of uncooperative defendants.