I will not bore you with, “War stories”, but it is sufficient to say that in the past 25 years I have seen every type of situation when serving papers.
I started off working on a self employed basis in the late 80’s for an established national firm of investigators and process servers, I would only get paid a percentage of whatever fee the client was charged, in those days, I always welcomed the, “Friday night” specials (Still do) whereby an injunction needed urgent personal service – if you had a few ongoing jobs then there was an income to be earned and weekends become working days.
After becoming an employee and moving onto a Private Detective Agency I had many good days in the 1990’s all the way up to 1998 when I started my own agency, to the present day.
We now employ people to serve documents, but, as is often the case with a small business it is expedient and often easier just to go out and do the serves yourself. The reports are easier to prepare as are the Statements of Service. You can also keep up to date with your clients when you collect serves or drop off your reports.
To cut to the chase, I have made sure that I have, “Lived” and “Learnt” when acting for the Courts or my clients in effecting service of documents upon individuals and private companies. The likelihood of a, “Successful life”, serving documents is increased if you follow a number of commonsense ideas and approach the matter in hand with a degree of caution.
The basic stuff is that you need to be relatively relaxed and happy in your work, health and happiness trump wealth and unhappiness. A happy process server is preferred by your client! When you knock on the door of the respondent, defendant or neighbor you will often, “Reap what you sow”, so a little bit of affinity and cheerfulness goes a long way.
Always make a quick study of the address you are serving at, sometimes you will park your car a street or two away as you anticipate a hostile reaction or maybe you want to remain anonymous. Sometimes, just pull up as if you live at the address. If you cannot gain a reply, neighbors will be an excellent source of information…just make sure you are guarded about you actual business and remember that the neighbor can alert the person you are trying to serve. Where is the car of the person you are serving? is always worth considering…a large drive with space for two cars has a mini parked up – the next space is empty. You are serving a director of a company, is he home yet?
As you approach the door of the property make sure you have an exit route and if things turn nasty use it. Look out for dogs, weapons, everything and anything. I do go inside the house when invited, but, it is only when I am certain that there will be no repercussions. Remember when the front door closes, so does your escape route. If the person you are serving starts squaring up, becomes threatening, walk away in a controlled manner, keep a glance on the persons posture and eyes. I don’t try to throw the papers into the hallway or onto the ground anymore as the chances of serious confrontations are thereby greatly increased. If you are followed beyond the boundary of the property choose, “Flight”, back to your car, rather than, “Fight”. Pop the papers into the letterbox a couple of hours later when things have calmed down, or return with a burly colleague. The Police or the PCSO will attend with you if you let them know a, “Breach of the peace”, is anticipated. Don’t be a, “Hero”, basically.
I realize that I have missed out a lot of tips, but, my final piece of advice is that the best way to avoid the pitfalls of process serving is to build up your own experience and expertise. Good luck!
Kevin Regan of Burton Regan Detective Bureau (Celebrating 25 years as a front line professional private investigator and process server on: 8th June 2013), Vicarage Chambers, 9 Park Square East, Leeds, LS1 2LH.