Adoption of Digital Service of Process Accelerated by COVID
- September 24, 2020
- by ServeNow Staff
Editor's note: This is a summary of an article written for CALSPro. You can view the original article on their blog.
The spread of COVID has changed the service of process industry in many ways, not the least of which has been the attention given to electronic service (or “eService”). Since this alternative method of service allows the transfer of documents completely digitally (digital service of process, or DSOP), it limits person-to-person contact, preventing further spread of the virus through legal proceedings. eService also has the potential to save time, speeding up the California judicial system which often finds itself bottlenecked with cases. But the advantages of eService leave process servers across the nation concerned that they will be displaced as service of process goes digital.
Thankfully, there is another option for worried process servers. Using their knowledge and new process serving software tools available to them through ServeManager, process servers can remain a relevant and important part of due process.
What is happening in California?
On April 17th, the Judicial Council approved emergency rule #12, a temporary rule that mandates electronic service of documents in most civil cases. This order is only for secondary services and not primary jurisdictional documents, such as summons and complaints. Also worth noting is Senate Bill 1146, which would require a party represented by counsel who has appeared in an action or proceeding to accept electronic service of a notice or document that may be served by mail, express mail, overnight delivery, or facsimile transmission. Find more information about these rules on the CALSPro blog.
What does this mean for process servers?
The best and most reliable means of service is still in-person and the growing popularity of eService doesn’t eliminate traditional service. However, in order to stay up-to-date and relevant, process servers should familiarize themselves with eService and how it works. They can even consider adding it as an additional service in order to appeal to a wider variety of clients.
Industry veteran and owner and operator of FileServeX, Jeff Karotkin, feels that the complexity associated with physical service of process during this pandemic has shown the legal support industry that eService can be a viable and lawful alternative. He said, “The pressure on us, our customers, and recipients to embrace technology and operational efficiencies are too high to ignore. As a result, the existing physical model may have to change to meet today’s challenges.
Process Servers are not immune to the rapidly changing legal technology landscape. I believe that the service of process needs to be reimagined if process servers are going to remain relevant.” - Jeff Karotkin
ServeManager’s eService Solution
In an effort to provide process servers with the tools they need to succeed, ServeManager has created a digital service of process tool. It was designed specifically to enable electronic service of process while also keeping process servers as a vital part of due process. ServeManager CTO, Trent Carlyle said, “With hundreds digital serves having already been initiated through our eService featureset, in the three months that it’s been available to a limited user base, it’s clear that the need for this technology goes beyond the occasional allowance by a court.”
Our customers are telling us that record facilities, corporations, universities, government agencies, and occasionally private parties are requesting that documents be emailed to reduce exposure. We built in these features as a direct response to the pandemic, and as a way to keep our customers serving papers as entities and the legal system change the way they operate now, and during other inevitable disruptions in the legal system.” - Trent Carlyle
Still in beta mode, the ServeManager DSOP / eService feature allows process servers to:
- send notification of service documents
- see when that notification is viewed
- see whether the recipient waives the physical service method
- and see when the sent documents are downloaded by the recipient.
This method is significantly more reliable than email because it is secure and you can guarantee to your clients that the documents were successfully sent, received, and downloaded.
For the process server, it feels easier than sending an email. In keeping with CALSPro’s Best Practices for Service of Process, the ServeManger DSOP tool is intended for use by consenting parties and requires the recipient to formally acknowledge receipt and specifically waive the physical service method.
See more about how this feature works in the video below. Please visit ServeManager’s Digital Service of Process solution post to learn more about this evolving set of features for legal support professionals.