By: Akanksha A. Panicker
Service of process essentially occurs when the party to a lawsuit notifies the other party as to the beginning of legal proceedings. This is done when appropriate notice of initial legal action as ordered by a court or a tribunal is sent to the party so that jurisdiction is exercised and the person has to respond to the proceeding before the court. The ‘process’ part of ‘service of process’ refers to the set of documents that is to be delivered, allowing for notice to be furnished.
Different jurisdictions mean different rules for an appropriate service of process. However, a summons and other related documents must be served upon the defendant personally. Sometimes, this might be relaxed, and service may be provided upon another person of suitable age and discretion at the person’s residence or place of business or employment. Service of process through the mail or through procedural rules and court order may be authorized. A prime example of the same is service by publication, done when an individual cannot be located in a particular jurisdiction. It must be understood that proper service of process establishes personal jurisdiction of the court on the individual served. Failure to participate by means that the person is in default, and relief may be granted to the petitioner. Service of process in cases filed in the United States District Courts is governed by Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure