HOW TO SERVE LEGAL PAPERS ON THE DELAWARE SECRETARY OF STATE

The Secretary of State of Delaware is in charge of the state’s Department of State. Corporate registry, bank monitoring, and other commercial operations are all duties of the secretary. Because of this, the Secretary of State of Delaware is not responsible for overseeing the state’s election process. The Delaware Department of Elections operates independently of the Department of State.

The current secretary is Jeffrey W. Bullock, a Democrat. Bullock was first appointed on January 21, 2009, by Governor Jack Markell.

When someone or a business files a lawsuit in Delaware against another person or a company Delaware Process Service is required. Receiving Delaware Process Service signifies that someone has informed someone or their company of their intention to bring a lawsuit against them or their organization. The individual being sued, or the registered agent of that person’s business, must receive Delaware Process Service personally.

Owners of businesses in Delaware should be well-versed in the procedure of serving documents. A director or an official of a Delaware-registered company must receive service of process personally, as required by Delaware law. For corporations with a registered agent, the copy of Delaware Process Service must be sent to that person or business rather than the actual company being served.

HOW DOES DELAWARE SERVICE OF PROCESS WORK

To serve Delaware Process Service to a business that has selected another company to operate as its registered agent, it is also possible for any of the representatives who have authorization in their capacity as higher officers to accept process service.  By the time service of process’s return date rolls around, the person who served it must have evidence that the papers were properly delivered and received.

A Delaware Process Service must be left either at home, the usual dwelling place, a place of business of a director, an officer, or as a registered agent of a corporation. The document must be delivered six days or more before the required return date. There must be an adult present to witness the delivery.

WHEN CAN SOMEONE SERVE PAPERS UPON THE SECRETARY OF STATE IN DELAWARE

Under certain conditions, the Delaware Division of Corporations allows service of process on Delaware companies, non-Delaware businesses, and out-of-state persons. This also includes other entities such as limited partnerships, limited liability companies, GPs, and Statutory Trusts. Any questions regarding the registered agent’s relationship with an entity for the purposes of Delaware Process Service should be directed to that agent.

A writ of summons may be served on the defendant in the manner prescribed by any rule of court, or by stating the substance of it to the defendant personally. Service may also be done by leaving a copy of the Delaware Process Service at the defendant’s usual place of abode. The caveat is that Delaware Process Service should have been done in the presence of some adult person, six days before the return of that service. This return is highly regulated, with the officer serving a summons being required to state the officer’s return and the time and manner of service.

No service of summons upon the State shall be complete until such Delaware Process Service is made upon the person of the Attorney General or upon the person of the State Solicitor or upon the person of the Chief Deputy Attorney General.

REQUIREMENTS FOR PROCESS SERVICE ON NON-RESIDENTS IN DELAWARE

Service of process means that the individual would have to come under the personal jurisdiction of the state at hand. Consequently, there always is some ambiguity in terms of the actions of non-residents. For purposes of Delaware Process Service, a  ‘person’ would mean natural person, association, partnership, or corporation. 

There is a necessity for non-residents to have a legal presence within the State. Any person who conducts some business submits to the jurisdiction of the Delaware courts. A court may exercise personal jurisdiction over any non-resident, or a personal representative, who [A.] transacts any business or performs any character of work or service in the State; [B.] contracts to supply services or things in this State; [C.] causes tortious injury in the State by an act or omission in this State; [D] has an interest in, uses or possesses real property in the State; or [E.] contracts to insure or act as surety for any person, property, risk, contract, obligation or agreement located, executed or to be performed within the State at the time the contract is made unless the parties otherwise provided in writing.

If Delaware Process Service is authorized outside the state, the adequate notice period for process service should be made by personal delivery as per the Delaware Process Service guidelines or by any manner provided or prescribed by the law for action in any of its courts of general jurisdiction. This does not preclude mail service as long as the mail is addressed to the person to be served and has a signed receipt. Furthermore, any and all directions of a court for process service must be adhered to. 

SERVICE OF PROCESS UNDER TITLE 10 IN DELAWARE

The Secretary of State of Delaware accepts service of process under Sections 3104, 3111, and 3114. The fee for service under any section of this Title would be USD 50 per defendant for each section reference. If service of process has to be provided under two sections, then the total amount would come up to USD 100 cumulatively.

Although the Secretary of State has accepted service on a Delaware corporation, this does not always signify valid service. A Delaware company must furnish the plaintiff with the defendant’s out-of-state address if the defendant is a non-Delaware corporation. There is a USD 50.00 charge per defendant, and all papers to be served must be prepared in duplicate. All documents must be served upon the office of the Secretary of State by the Sheriff, Constable, or Special Process Server. Unless documents are from a Federal Court, Delaware Process Service is not acceptable through the mail.

It is necessary to send a check or money order made out to the Secretary of State for Delaware with the payment. The service will be denied if payment is not made for the precise amount needed. If these papers are being served under a certain Title or Section, it must be stated clearly in writing. In this role, the office of the Secretary of State cannot provide any legal advice. 

The forms, as well as for instructions on how to complete them and what the plaintiff must do, may be acquired from the relevant Court. This office does not provide anyone a return of the stamped copy of the document they took from the individual. The party who served the papers on the Secretary of State of Delaware will provide the plaintiff with an affidavit attesting to the service. Anything served on the office of the Secretary of the State that does not satisfy the above requirements will be rejected and sent back to the person who served it.

HOW TO SERVE THE SECRETARY OF STATE OF DELAWARE

As a last resort, the person in charge of delivering the legal process may have the Delaware Process Service sent to the Secretary of State. For the benefit of the company or person being served, the Secretary of State office will accept service of process.

In order to serve the Delaware Secretary of State, a business or a person must pay the right fees and do the necessary procedures. The Secretary of State has all the information it needs online. Serving the Secretary of State is governed by state-specific laws and regulations. In order to make sure the procedure is effective, individuals should verify it twice before completing it. The service of process to the Secretary of State will be effective if they complete the procedures and pay the costs.

Once the Secretary of State has been served, a letter will be sent to the firm or person being sued, notifying them that the lawsuit has been served. There should be a Secretary of State letter on file for the firm to receive this letter. Unless a business registered with the state without providing an address, the Secretary of State will send a letter to the registered agent.

HOW TO SERVE THE SECRETARY OF STATE AS THE REGISTERED AGENT IN DELAWARE

All Delaware companies registering with the Secretary of State are required to provide information about a registered agent with the agency. That way, the most efficient and successful procedure of service of process may be ensured between Delaware companies All legal documents, particularly service of process, are received by a registered agent for the company’s benefit. Registered agents must have regular business hours every day of the week to ensure they are accessible to receive important papers when they are needed. Every day of the week, during regular working hours, there should always be a representative accessible to receive papers.

Choosing a registered agent is something a business may delegate to one of its employees. The registered agent office, on the other hand, should be kept distinct from the company’s primary location. Receiving service of process papers in front of consumers or clients doesn’t help a company much.

The process against the corporation may be served on the Secretary of State if the officer tasked with serving legal process is unable to do so with due diligence. In this case, service on the Secretary of State will be just as effective as service on the officer in question. The Secretary of State may be served by electronic transmission in these circumstances, but only in the manner specified by the Secretary of State. 

According to the Secretary of State’s judgment, rules and regulations regarding this service should be issued by the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State is authorized to issue such rules and regulations with respect to such service as the office of the Secretary of State would deem necessary or appropriate.

WHAT THE SECRETARY OF STATE HAS TO DO

The Secretary of State shall immediately notify the corporation by letter, addressed to the corporation at its principal place of business as shown on the records relating to the corporation on file.  If no such address appears, service can be done at its last registered office if service is made through the Secretary of State. This letter must be delivered by mail or courier service, and it must include a record of mailing or deposit with the courier. It would also be required to provide a record of delivery, which is proved by the recipient’s signature. A copy of the process and any other documents served by the Secretary of State must be included in the letter.

Process and other documents must be served in triplicate, notifying the Secretary of State as required that service is being carried out in accordance with it, and paying the Secretary of State USD 50 as a service fee. This fee will be included in the plaintiff’s costs if they win. The Secretary of State should keep an alphabetical record of any such service. This record would include the name of the plaintiff and defendant, the title, docket number, and nature of the proceeding in which process was served on the Secretary of State, as well as the fact that service was done according to adequate Delaware Process Service, the date on which it was returned, and the time at which it was made. After receiving service of process, the Secretary of State is not obliged to keep this information for more than five years.

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Sources

1. The office of the secretary of state is established by the Delaware Constitution in Article III, Section 10.

Delaware Constitution, Article III, Section 10: The Governor shall appoint, by and with the consent of a majority of all the members elected to the Senate, a Secretary of State, who shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor.

2. ‘Welcome Letter.’ Department of State – State of Delaware, 13 Jan. 2021, sos.delaware.gov/secretary-state-welcome-letter/. 

3. ‘Department of State.’ Department of State – State of Delaware, 31 Aug. 2021, sos.delaware.gov/department-state-responsibilities/.

4. LIST OF HIGHER OFFICERS

  • President
  • Vice president
  • Secretary
  • Assistant
  • Director

5. Titles 6, 8, and 12 of the Delaware code set forth the requirements for Delaware Process Service upon Delaware corporations.

6. This would also include upon any administrative office, agency, department, board, or commission of the state government, or upon any officer of the state government concerning any matter arising in connection with the exercise of his or her official powers or duties.

7. Code 1852, §§  2238, 2239;  Code 1915, §  4087;  Code 1935, §  4578;  10 Del. C. 1953, §  3103;  59 Del. Laws, c. 159, §  1;  70 Del. Laws, c. 186, §  1;

8. ‘No order shall be entered under 10 Del. C. § 366 unless it appears in the complaint that the defendant or any one or more of the defendants is a nonresident of the State of Delaware and the application, therefore, is accompanied by the affidavit of a plaintiff’ Rule 4 – Process, Del. R. Ch. Ct. 4

 DEL.CODE ANN.tit. 1, §302(2014)

9.‘ In the construction of this Code and of all other statutes of this State, unless the context requires a different meaning:(15)    ‘Person’    and    ‘whoever’    respectively    include corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and    joint-stock    companies,    as    well    as individuals

10. Title 10 – Courts and Judicial Procedures CHAPTER 31. PROCESS; COMMENCEMENT OF ACTIONS

§ 3104 Personal jurisdictions by acts of nonresidents.

10 DE Code § 3104 (2015)

11. Title 10 – Courts and Judicial Procedures CHAPTER 31. PROCESS; COMMENCEMENT OF ACTIONS

§ 3111 Actions against corporations; service of process.

10 DE Code § 3111 (2015)

12. Title 10 – Courts and Judicial Procedures CHAPTER 31. PROCESS; COMMENCEMENT OF ACTIONS

§ 3114 Service of process on nonresident directors, trustees, members of the governing body, or officers of Delaware corporations.

10 DE Code § 3114 (2015)

13. Since this  often requires specific information, then individuals may contact the Division of Corporations of the Delaware Secretary of State at (302) 739-3077

14. At all times, including weekends and holidays, there should be a person on-site to receive papers.

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