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New Jersey Rules of Civil Procedure

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New Jersey Process Serving Requirements

Summonses shall be served together with a copy of the complaint, by the sheriff, or by a person specially appointed by the court for that purpose, or by plaintiff’s attorney or the attorney’s agent, or by any other competent adult not having a direct interest in the litigation.

New-Jersey Rules of Civil Procedure

Please note that lobbyists are active in the state of New-Jersey and laws concerning civil procedure and process serving can change. Therefore the information listed below may have been amended. For updated process serving legislation, please visit the New Jersey Courts web site.

Rule 4:4. Process

Rule 4:4. Process

4:4-1. Summons: Issuance

The plaintiff, the plaintiff’s attorney or the clerk of the court may issue the summons. If a summons is not issued within 10 days after the filing of the complaint the action may be dismissed in accordance with R. 4:37-2(a). Separate or additional summonses may issue against any defendants.

Note: Source – R.R. 4:4-1; amended July 13, 1994 to be effective September 1, 1994.

4:4-2. Summons: Form

Except as otherwise provided by R. 5:4-1(b) (summary proceedings in family actions), the face of the summons shall be in the form prescribed by Appendix XII-A to these Rules. It shall be in the name of the State, signed in the name of the Superior Court Clerk and directed to the defendant. It shall contain the name of the court and the plaintiff and the name and address of the plaintiff’s attorney, if any, otherwise the plaintiff’s address, and the time within which these rules require the defendant to serve an answer upon the plaintiff or plaintiff’s attorney, and shall notify the defendant that if he or she fails to answer, judgment by default may be rendered for the relief demanded in the complaint. It shall also inform the defendant of the necessity to file an answer and proof of service thereof with the deputy clerk of the Superior Court in the county of venue, except in mortgage and tax foreclosure actions an answer shall be filed with the Clerk of the Superior Court in Trenton unless and until the action is deemed contested and the papers have been sent by the Clerk to the county of venue in which event an answer shall be filed with the deputy clerk of the Superior Court in the county of venue. If the defendant is an individual resident in this state, the summons shall advise that if he or she is unable to obtain an attorney, he or she may communicate with the Lawyer Referral Service of the county of his or her residence, or the county in which the action is pending, or, if there is none in either county, the Lawyer Referral Service of an adjacent county. The summons shall also advise defendant that if he or she cannot afford an attorney, he or she may communicate with the Legal Services Office of the county of his or her residence or the county in which the action is pending. If the defendant is an individual not resident in this State, the summons shall similarly advise him or her, directing the defendant, however, to the appropriate agency in the county in which the action is pending. The reverse side or second page of the summons shall contain a current listing, by county, of addresses and telephone numbers of the Legal Services Office and the Lawyer Referral Office serving each county, which list shall be updated regularly by the Administrative Office of the Courts and made available to legal forms publishers and to any person requesting such list. Note: Source – R.R. 4:4-2; amended November 27, 1974 to be effective April 1, 1975; amended July 29, 1977 to be effective September 6, 1977; amended July 21, 1980 to be effective September 8, 1980; amended July 16, 1981 to be effective September 14, 1981; amended December 20, 1983 to be effective December 31, 1983; amended June 29, 1990 to be effective September 4, 1990; amended July 13, 1994 to be effective September 1, 1994; amended June 28, 1996 to be effective September 1, 1996; amended July 10, 1998 to be effective September 1, 1998.

4:4-3. By Whom Served; Copies

Summons and Complaint.

Summonses shall be served together with a copy of the complaint, by the sheriff, or by a person specially appointed by the court for that purpose, or by plaintiff’s attorney or the attorney’s agent, or by any other competent adult not having a direct interest in the litigation. If personal service cannot be effected after a reasonable and good faith attempt, which shall be described with specificity in the proof of service required by R. 4:4-7, service may be made by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, to the usual place of abode of the defendant or a person authorized by rule of law to accept service for the defendant or, with postal instructions to deliver to addressee only, to defendant’s place of business or employment. If the addressee refuses to claim or accept delivery of registered or certified mail, service may be made by ordinary mail addresed to the defendant’s usual place of abode. The party making service may, at the party’s option, make service simultaneously by registered or certified mail and ordinary mail, and if the addressee refuses to claim or accept delivery of registered mail and if the ordinary mailing is not returned, the simultaneous mailing shall constitute effective service. Mail may be addressed to a post office box in lieu of a street address only as provided by R. 1:5-2. Return of service shall be made as provided by R. 4:4-7.

Writs.

Unless the court otherwise orders, all writs and process to enforce a judgment or order shall be served by the sheriff. Note: Source – R.R. 4:4-3, 5:5-1 (c), 5:2-2; amended July 14, 1992 to be effective September 1, 1992; paragraph (b) amended July 13, 1994 to be effective September 1, 1994; captions and text of paragraphs (a) and (b) deleted and replaced with new captions and text July 5, 2000 to be effective September 5, 2000.

4:4-4. Summons; Personal Service; In Personam Jurisdiction Service of summons, writs and complaints shall be made as follows:

Primary Method of Obtaining In Personam Jurisdiction.

The primary method of obtaining in personam jurisdiction over a defendant in this State is by causing the summons and complaint to be personally served within this State pursuant to R. 4:4-3, as follows:

Obtaining In Personam Jurisdiction by Substituted or Constructive Service.

Optional Mailed Service. In lieu of personal service prescribed by paragraph (a)(1) of this rule, service may be made by registered, certified or ordinary mail, provided, however, that such service shall be effective for obtaining in personam jurisdiction only if the defendant answers the complaint or otherwise appears in response thereto. If defendant does not answer or appear within 60 days following mailed service, service shall be made as is otherwise prescribed by this rule, and the time prescribed by R. 4:4-1 for issuance of the summons shall then begin to run anew.

Note: Source – R.R. 4:4-4. Paragraph (a) amended July 7, 1971 to be effective September 13, 1971; paragraphs (a) and (b) amended July 14, 1972 to be effective September 5, 1972; paragraph (f) amended July 15, 1982 to be effective September 13, 1982; paragraph (e) amended July 26, 1984 to be effective September 10, 1984; paragraph (a) amended November 1, 1985 to be effective January 2, 1986; paragraphs (a), (f) and (g) amended November 5, 1986 to be effective January 1, 1987; paragraph (i) amended November 2, 1987 to be effective January 1, 1988; paragraph (e) amended November 7, 1988 to be effective January 2, 1989; paragraphs (a) and (b) amended July 14, 1992 to be effective September 1, 1992; text deleted and new text substituted July 13, 1994 to be effective September 1, 1994.

4:4-5. Summons; Service on Absent Defendants; In Rem or Quasi In Rem Jurisdiction

Whenever, in actions affecting specific property, or any interest therein, or any res within the jurisdiction of the court, or in matrimonial actions over which the court has jurisdiction, wherein it shall appear by affidavit of the plaintiff’s attorney or other person having knowledge of the facts, that a defendant cannot, after diligent inquiry, be served within the State, service may, consistent with due process of law, be made by any of the following 4 methods:

P(#446). 4:4-6. General Appearance; Acknowledgment of Service

A general appearance or an acceptance of the service of a summons, signed by the defendant’s attorney or signed and acknowledged by the defendant (other than an infant or incompetent), shall have the same effect as if the defendant had been properly served. Note: Source – R.R. 4:4-6; amended July 17, 1975 to be effective September 8, 1975.

4:4-7. Return

The person serving the process shall make proof of service thereof on the original process, and in Superior Court actions also on the copy, and shall promptly file such process with the court within the time during which the person served must respond thereto. The proof of service shall state the name of the person served and the place, mode and date of service, and a copy thereof shall be forthwith furnished plaintiff’s attorney by the person serving process. If service is made upon a member of the household pursuant to R. 4:4-4 that person’s name shall be stated in the proof or, if such name cannot be ascertained, the proof shall contain a description of the person upon whom service was made. If service is made by a person other than a sheriff or a court appointee, proof of service shall be by similar affidavit which shall include the facts of the affiant’s diligent inquiry regarding defendant’s place of abode, business or employment. If service is made by mail, the party making service shall make proof thereof by affidavit which shall also include the facts of the failure to effect personal service and the facts of the affiant’s diligent inquiry to determine defendant’s place of abode, business or employment. With the proof shall be filed the affidavit or affidavits of inquiry, if any, required by R. 4:4-4 and R. 4:4-5. Where service is made by registered or certified mail and simultaneously by regular mail, the return receipt card or the unclaimed registered or certified mail shall be filed as part of the proof. Failure to make proof of service does not affect the validity of service. Note: Source R.R. 4:4-7. Amended July 14, 1972 to be effective September 5, 1972; amended June 29, 1990 to be effective September 4, 1990; amended July 14, 1992 to be effective September 1, 1992; amended July 13, 1994 to be effective September 1, 1994; amended July 10, 1998 to be effective September 1, 1998.

4:4-8. Amendment

The person serving the process may file an additional or amended proof of service within the time provided by R. 4:4-7. The court may thereafter allow any process or proof of service thereof to be amended upon such terms as it deems appropriate unless such amendment would materially prejudice the rights of the party against whom process issued. Note: Source – R.R. 4:4-8.

4:14-7. Subpoena for Taking Depositions

Form; Contents; Scope.

The attendance of a witness at the taking of depositions may be compelled by subpoena, issued and served as prescribed by R. 1:9 insofar as applicable, and subject to the protective provisions of R. 1:9-2 and R. 4:10-3. The subpoena may command the person to whom is directed to produce designated books, papers, documents or other objects which constitute or contain evidence relating to all matters within the scope of examination permitted by R. 4:10-2.

Time and Place of Examination by Subpoena; Witness’ Expenses.

Notice; Limitations. A subpoena commanding a person to produce evidence for discovery purposes may be issued only to a person whose attendance at a designated time and place for the taking of a deposition is simultaneously compelled. The subpoena shall state that the subpoenaed evidence shall not be produced or released until the date specified for the taking of the deposition and that if the deponent is notified that a motion to quash the subpoena has been filed, the deponent shall not produce or release the subpoenaed evidence until ordered to do so by the court or the release is consented to by all parties to the action. The subpoena shall be simultaneously served no less than 10 days prior to the date therein scheduled on the witness and on all parties, who shall have the right at the taking of the deposition to inspect and copy the subpoenaed evidence produced. If evidence is produced by a subpoenaed witness who does not attend taking of the deposition, the parties to whom the evidence is so furnished shall forthwith provide notice to all other parties of the receipt thereof and of its specific nature and contents and shall make it available to all other parties for inspection and copying.

Note: Source – R.R. 4:20-1 (last sentence), 4:46-4(a) (b). Paragraphs (a) and (b) amended July 14, 1972, to be effective September 5, 1972; paragraph (c) adopted November 5, 1986 to be effective January 1, 1987; paragraph (b) recaptioned paragraph (b)(1) and amended paragraph (b)(2) adopted and paragraph (c) amended July 14, 1992 to be effective September 1, 1992.

4:14-8. Failure to Attend or Serve Subpoena; Expenses

If the party giving notice of the taking of a deposition fails to attend and proceed therewith and another party attends in person or by attorney pursuant to the notice, or if the party giving the notice fails to serve a subpoena upon a witness who because of such failure does not attend and another party attends in person or by attorney because that party expects the deposition of that witness to be taken, the court may order the party giving the notice to pay to such other party the reasonable expenses incurred as a result of attendance either by the attending party or that party’s attorney, including reasonable attorney’s fees. Note: Source – R.R 4:20-7(a)(b). Amended July 14, 1972 to be effective September 5, 1972; amended July 13, 1994 to be effective September 1, 1994.

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