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Pacific Northwest Legal Support Inc.

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Standards and Best Practices for Service of Process in the State of Washington

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Pacific Northwest Legal Support has developed the following Standards and Best Practices for service of process and strives to reach them on a daily basis. These are subject to changes in statutory law, case law, and rules of the court. They are also under regular review in an effort to improve and expand them over time.

  1. Service of Process
    1. Refuse to work with, work for, employ, or otherwise professionally associate with anyone who knowingly falsifies proofs of service, forges another's signature, commits perjury, or otherwise acts in a manner to bring discredit to professional process servers or harm to a client or to the public.
    2. Process is served in accordance with applicable statutory law, case law, rules of the court, or client instruction.
    3.  
    4. Full cooperation is provided to the court system whenever a claim of defective service is made.
    5.  
    6. Full cooperation is provided to the client whenever a claim of defective service is made.
    7.  
    8. Cooperation with opposing counsel or third parties is provided only upon receipt of written permission from client.
    9. Service of process is made by a disinterested third party.
    10.  
    11. Personal "in hand" service is the preferred method of service.
    12.  
    13. Abode service, also known as substitute service, is acceptable when done in accordance with statutory law, case law, court rule, or client instruction.
    14.  
    15. Service is affected by presentation of the documents in a manner that a reasonable person would understand they are being served with process.
    16. Whenever reasonably possible, the person who receives the documents is asked to sign their name acknowledging such receipt. This signature becomes a part of the service record. If the person refuses to sign acknowledging receipt of the document, the process server notes such refusal in the record of service.
    17.  
    18. Where the documents cannot be served personally or via abode service, all attempts are documented in a manner reasonably calculated to allow the client to use an alternative method of service.
    19.  
    20. Service on persons "in law", such as corporations and government entities, is made in accordance with statutory law, case law, court rule, or client instruction.
    21.  
    22. Service of process is made in accordance with client instructions so long as such instructions are moral, ethical, and do not result in a violation of criminal law.
    23. In descending order of acceptability, service on persons is obtained as follows:
      1. Personal "in hand" service.
      2. Abode service.
      3. Special situations where diligence is required such as:
Publication
Mailing
Secretary of State
Electronic
      4. In accordance with client instructions.
    24. In descending order of acceptability, service on persons "in law" is obtained as follows:
      1. Personal "in hand" service by presentation to an individual specified in statutory law, case law, or court rule.
      2. Abode service.
      3. Special situations where diligence is required such as:
Publication
Mailing
Secretary of State
Electronic
      4. In accordance with client instructions.
  2. Training
    1. Full compliance is maintained with all federal, state, and local laws regarding minimum educational requirements and continuing education.
    2. Process servers understand the following:
      1. Principals of general applicability
Due process of law
Jurisdiction of the courts
Jurisdiction over persons and property
      2. Structure of state and federal courts
      3. Components of a civil case
      4. Nature and purpose of civil process such as:
Initial process
Subpoenas
Other process
      5. State and federal court rules/statutes related to service of process such as:
Proper methods of service
Personal service
Alternative methods of service
Time and distance limitations
Required fees
Restrictions, prohibitions and sanctions
      6. Licensing, registration or other authorization requirements
      7.  
      8. Affidavits/Proofs of Service
      9.  
      10. Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct
      11. Due Diligence
  3. Communications  
    1. Every reasonable effort is made to keep clients informed as to the status of their service assignment.
    2. When ever possible communications are made in writing, e.g., e-mail, fax, mailing, etc.
    3.  
    4. Clients are provided access to, and encouraged to use, online information relating to their service assignments.
  4. Record Keeping  
    1. Complete records are maintained on each service assignment whether served or unserved.
    2. A copy of the face page of each document served is maintained on each service assignment whether served or unserved.
    3. Paper records are maintained for at least 10 years.
    4.  
    5. Electronic records are maintained indefinitely.
    6. Electronic records are "backed up" and stored in a separate location at least once a day.
    7.  
    8. Process servers will maintain a log of their daily activities including, but not limited to, each service and each attempted service.
    9.  
    10. Process server logs are made available to the court when ever a claim of defective service is made.
  5. Business Practices  
    1. All process servers and legal messengers will maintain a valid driver's license.
    2.  
    3. A background search is conducted on all employees prior to their employment.
    4.  
    5. Appropriate insurance is carried at all times. This includes premises, auto, and professional insurance. Minimum liability coverage is $1 million.
    6.  
    7. Full compliance is maintained regarding all federal, state, and local laws regarding business operations, business licensing, and the payment of appropriate taxes.
    8.  
    9. Full compliance is maintained regarding all federal, state, and local laws regarding professional accreditation, registration, continuing education, and licensing.
  6. < Back to Process Service

  7. Proofs of Service
    1. Proofs of service are completed in a timely and accurate manner.
    2.  
    3. When client instructions do not correspond with statutory law, case law, or rules of the court then the phrase "service made in accordance with client instructions", or wording similar thereto, is used in the proof of service.
    4.  
    5. Only original signatures are applied to proofs of service.
    6.  
    7. When electronic signatures are applied to a proof of service, the process server who served the documents shall cause the signature to be applied.
    8.  
    9. Any application of a signature to a proof of service, by a party not the signatory, regardless of the method of application, is a forgery.
    10.  
    11. When the proof of service is a notarized affidavit the process server shall sign the proof in the presence of the notary.
    12.  
    13. Proofs of service are reviewed by the server before the application of a signature.
    14.  
    15. Proofs of service are formatted in a style acceptable to the court in which it will be filed.
    16.  
    17. Proofs of service contain an accurate list of the documents served.
    18.  
    19. Proofs of service contain the date, time, and location where the service took place.
    20.  
    21. Proofs of service contain language which accurately and clearly describes the manner in which the service was made.
    22.  
    23. When ever reasonably possible, proofs of service will contain a description of the person with whom the documents were left. This includes, but is not limited to, approximate age, height, weight, hair color, eye color, identifying marks, and any other descriptive information as possible.
    24.  
    25. Process servers are ready to testify in court to support any challenge to their proof of service.
  8. Exchange Work
       
    1. Never contact the referring company's client without specific written permission to do so.
    2.  
    3. Never quote, or offer to quote, fees to a referring company's client without specific written permission to do so unless the client has initiated the contact and asked for the quote.
    4.  
    5. Documents are served in accordance with the laws of the originating jurisdiction.
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