No lawsuit is complete without serving your legal documents to the defendant. The defendants must know the claims against them and notified of the venue, day, and time that they can appear to defend themselves.

You must serve papers in the provinces where you filed your case. An exception only occurs if a suit involves motor vehicle accidents or lawsuits against real estate owners that are out-of-province. You can do this with the help of a court clerk in your province.

If your claim involves more than one party, you must serve all the defendants or plaintiffs. You must not assume that one will tell another even if they are married or live together.

You need to know where the defendant lives or works before serving your legal documents. You may not be able to complete the service without this information; hence you will not be able to file a lawsuit.

You can consider these step by step guide when serving legal documents;


Preparing the legal documents to serve


Prepare the case documents by ensuring your content is clear for readability and effective communication so that each party can understand.


Identify the process server


If you choose a private process server, ensure you deal with one that is reliable and trustworthy. Please do thorough research to ensure that the process servers are registered or ask for a lawyer’s recommendation. Courtrunner.ca is here to help you find a professional process server. We ensure that the servers have skills and experience to help you serve your legal documents efficiently.


Determine the best ways of serving the legal documents


Below are several ways you can serve your papers to individual defendants:


Personal service


You can choose the following to serve the defendant with the relevant documents.

  • A disinterested adult above 18 years can also serve the defendant, though the province must approve the person.
  • The court lists private process servers that you can use to serve defendants. You will pay them based on how long the service takes.

Remember to handle the claim and a summons to the defendant. If a process server locates the respondent, and the person acts hostile, runs away, or refuses the paper, the process server is supposed to put the document down and leave without using force.

The person serving the papers must prepare a personal Service affidavit to convince the court that he served the respondent well.

The plaintiff should;

  • Have the respondent’s photo to ensure that the person served looks like the one on the photo,
  • Ask the defendant to prove that they are the person on the list,
  • Ask the defendant to provide an official document to confirm that the names match with the ones on the Notice of Family Claim.


Certified Mail


Most provinces allow serving papers to the defendant through certified mail, where you receive a return receipt after sending a mail. A clerk will help you do the mailing but at a small fee, which you recover if you win.

This method is effective and cheap if the defendant accepts to sign. In case you pay the process server, then you use this method to serve your papers and fail, ensure you inform the judge about it so that the court can add all your costs to the ruling.

Some provinces allow first-class mail to serve papers, though the provinces differ on what you need to do if the defendant fails to answer in time. Ensure you check with your court clerk if the method is available in your vicinity.


Substituted service


Suppose the defendant is unwilling to cooperate when you are serving the legal documents. In that case, you can get a court order that will serve the defendant in an unusual way called substituted service.

You must prove that the respondent did not allow you to serve them in a usual manner. If they are unavailable, you provide all the steps you have taken to look for them.

The court uses these ways to issue a substituted service:

  • Posts a copy of the legal documents to the office or home door of the respondent,
  • Posts a copy of the legal documents in the registry of courts,
  • Distributes newspapers with ads on legal notices section in the area the respondent lives,
  • Leaves a notice with an adult living where the respondent is believed to live,
  • Sends an email to the respondent.

The court can set conditions such as extending the time for the defendant to respond. If met, the service will be considered adequate. You will have to prove that you have completed the court’s conditions by preparing an affidavit.


Post office Box Service


Suppose you don’t have any information concerning the respondent. In that case, you can write to the post office requesting the respondent’s address so that you can solely issue legal papers concerning a pending lawsuit.

The administrative support should help you in the case the post office employee cannot.


Serving an individual in the Military


You can serve anyone even if the person is on active duty in the Military. You can get a default judgment if the defendant fails to show up but not so if the defendant is in the Military. Military personnel has special protection; hence you cannot sue them when they are active on duty.

You can get default judgment by filing a claim that the respondent is not in the Military. You can do this by filing a statement under the perjury penalty. Suppose you reasonably believe that the defendant is not on active duty. In that case, the clerk will accept your Declaration of Non-military Service after you have signed it.


Filling the Proof of service form


Both the defendant and the plaintiff must sign the proof of service form. Suppose your clerk assisted you in serving your papers using certified mail. In that case, the receipt comes directly to the clerk if the service goes through.

The court will not know if the method you used to serve your papers were successful unless you make them understand. The primary way to notify the court is through filling proof of service form that the court clerk provides after serving the papers to the defendant.