What Does Service of Process Mean?

what does service of process meanIf you own a Delaware corporation, LLC, LP or other business entity, you should familiarize yourself with the term “service of process.”

So what is service of process? What does service of process mean, and why is it important for a Delaware company owner to understand service of process?

In Delaware, service of process is the method by which a company is served time-sensitive legal documents, including lawsuits and subpoenas; all services of process include a deadline for a response. For example, service of process is the means by which a person filing a lawsuit informs the person being sued about the lawsuit. The person receiving the service of process has a designated period of time in which to send a reply.

In Delaware, each business entity is required to retain a Registered Agent; one of the reasons for this regulation is so that service of process can always be executed in a judicious manner. The Delaware Registered Agent is required to maintain a physical location with standard office hours, which means the office must be open and accessible to accept service of process Monday through Friday, during normal working hours.

The Registered Agent is responsible for receiving service of process and forwarding it to the appropriate company in a timely fashion. This is why it is so important for Delaware company owners to choose an experienced, efficient Registered Agent.

How does a Registered Agent handle service of process for its clients?

Here's how the agent should proceed:

  1. A sheriff or process server arrives at our door attempting to serve Your Company, Inc.
  2. The agent verifies that it is, indeed, currently the Registered Agent for Your Company, Inc.
  3. Once verified, the agent accept the service of process on behalf of the company.
  4. The agent should log the important details—such as the sender, the court name and the case number—into the company record attached to Your Company, Inc.
  5. If the response due date is within 14 days, the agent calls the Communications Contact to inform him/her about the service of process and make arrangements to either email the document or send it via overnight delivery.
  6. If the response due date is within 30 days (the more typical deadline), the agent mails the service of process via First Class Mail, with a Certificate of Mailing, to the Communications Contact within 1 business day.

Receiving and responding to a service of process is a serious matter—ignoring legal proceedings or subpoenas could be disastrous for you and your company. If you fail to respond to a lawsuit in a timely fashion, the judge could declare that you lose the case, without your even showing up. If you fail to respond to a court order in a timely fashion the judge could declare you in contempt of court and issue a warrant for your arrest. As your Registered Agent, Harvard Business Services, Inc. follows the procedure noted above to prevent any missed deadlines.

Reversing these situations will take time and cost money. You’ll need a lawyer to go to work for you right away. If you would like to ensure you receive all services of process as well as all of your company’s Franchise Tax reports and late and/or void notices from the Delaware Secretary of State, change your Delaware Registered Agent to the best and most reliable in the industry.

*Disclaimer*: Harvard Business Services, Inc. is neither a law firm nor an accounting firm and, even in cases where the author is an attorney, or a tax professional, nothing in this article constitutes legal or tax advice. This article provides general commentary on, and analysis of, the subject addressed. We strongly advise that you consult an attorney or tax professional to receive legal or tax guidance tailored to your specific circumstances. Any action taken or not taken based on this article is at your own risk. If an article cites or provides a link to third-party sources or websites, Harvard Business Services, Inc. is not responsible for and makes no representations regarding such source’s content or accuracy. Opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Harvard Business Services, Inc.

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There are 2 comments left for What is Service of Process?

Taylor Abrams said: Friday, October 7, 2022

My husband has been talking nonstop about getting a 24 Hour Country Process Serving for his firm downtown and I had no idea about it at all. Now I know though that procedure serving is the process through which time-sensitive legal papers, such as lawsuits and subpoenas, are delivered to a firm each service of the process comes with a set response date. Thank you for explaining what effective process serving is to a regular citizen like me!

HBS Staff replied: Thursday, October 13, 2022

Hi Taylor,

Thank you for reading our blog and we are glad it was helpful. 

Ellen Hughes said: Tuesday, June 19, 2018

I do like that you pointed out that process server services involve time-sensitive legal documents that will need a response within a deadline. One of my closest friends told me that she needs to hire a professional process server, so she's asking for my help. I actually don't have an idea about it, so I don't have any idea how to help her until I read your blog. Thanks for sharing this.

HBS Staff replied: Tuesday, June 19, 2018

We are glad you found our blog helpful. Thanks for reading!

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