What is a process server?

Have you ever wondered, what is a process server? And what do they do? 

A process server is someone who is trained to deliver court and other legal documents to their intended recipient. 

Using a process server in the UK rather than posting or emailing documents ensures the recipient receives the papers and can’t claim otherwise. 

Hiring a UK process server avoids the common pitfalls of mail going astray in the post and helps in cases where the recipient may have moved to a different address. 

What is a process server allowed to do in the UK?

Many people wonder what exactly a process server is allowed to do in the UK. The answer is they can do so much more than simply deliver a letter!

Process servers are trained professionals so as well as tracking people down to old addresses or new addresses or locations where they are likely to be found, they then follow a set procedure that obtains proof of delivery after they have handed over your papers to the target. 

The importance of using a process server in the UK is the fact that the procedure they engage in to serve documents can be used as part of evidence in court cases. 

The types of legal papers delivered by process servers are statutory demands, bankruptcy petitions, injunctions or court summons. Tracing debtors is common for us.

Or if you need someone to serve divorce papers or writs as part of family law proceedings, a process server is skilled in doing the job.

How to choose a process server in the UK

If you need a process server in the UK, there are a number of factors to consider. 

The first thing is to feel comfortable that the process serving company you’re looking at knows what they are doing. 

You may want to look at the cost of the process server and how they charge their clients. For instance, some process servers charge a fixed fee while others charge according to each process serving job they carry out.

It’s also wise to find out what information you will be required to provide to the process server in the first place. 

How many attempts will the process server make to deliver the documents and in what areas and does the process server’s price differ according to those areas?

Another aspect to ask about is what type of documentary proof the process server will hand back to you at the end of their delivery assignment.

Once you’ve established this information, it’s important to verify that the process serving company you’ve found is trustworthy and experienced.

If they are, they will have reviews to prove their process server credentials and these should be displayed on the company website. 

Reading reviews helps you form an opinion of the ability of your potential process server and check their reliability.

What sort of knowledge does a process server need to have?

A process server needs a thorough understanding of the different types of legal documents that exist and the various stipulations that cover their delivery to the recipient. 

Some must be personally served and others require an appointment being made first. There are also documents that can be served via friends/relatives or the letterbox. Process servers also need to know how to apply for a substituted service if they are unable to personally serve the documents and how to fill in either an Affidavit of Service or Certificate of Service. 

Instructing a process server

Once you are ready to instruct the process server, you should agree on a contract with the company you have chosen.

Depending on the advice they give, you may either scan, email or hand deliver your legal documents to the process server. 

All the papers must be clear and contain the necessary information. It is also important to provide your process server with as much information as you can about the named recipient to whom they will be delivering. This would include information about possible failed process serving attempts in the past.

Other details that prove useful to process servers include the recipient’s weekly routine, places they visit regularly or hobbies they may have. The more information the process server has, the easier it is for them deliver your documents. No matter how irrelevant you think the piece of information is, it could turn out to be an important link to the person.

Now that you have sent the documents to the process server along with significant detail about the recipient, the process server can start their job and you have to play a waiting game while they track down the target and obtain proof of delivery. 

While you wait you may want to check in for updates with your process serving company.  It may be possible the process server requires further information as the job progresses. 

How the process server handles troublesome clients

There are set actions a process server is allowed to do when they arrive at a recipient’s address.

First they establish whether they are at the right location by making enquiries with the neighbours prior to enquiring with whoever answers the door that the target lives there.

After explaining why they are there the process server will attempt to personally serve the recipient by handing them the documents. If that is not possible leave the legal papers on the doorstep and stand back as part of social distancing, post them through the door or hand them to the person who answers the door if they confirm that they will pass on the papers.

The recipient is witnessed receiving the documents but in cases where they refuse to accept the delivery, the process server will explain that the papers will be posted through the letterbox and this exchange will be officially noted, written up and signed by the process server and if necessary can later be used in a legal case.


  • What does a process server do?

A process server is trained to deliver court and other legal documents to their intended recipient. A process server is an uninterested party in whatever legal proceedings are taking place, and they are therefore qualified to serve legal documents.

  • What happens after hiring a process server?

Once a process server has served the documents to the recipient, they must complete a proof of service. This can be in the form of a certificate, a statement, or an affidavit of service. A trained process server will know which is the required format for proof of service.

  • What powers does a process server have?

A process server has the power to serve a range of legal documents, including claims forms, summons and writs, court orders, statutory demands, bankruptcy petitions, proceedings for child and family arrangements, witness summons, divorce papers and non-molestation orders, among others.

  • What makes a good process server?

A good process server is part messenger and part detective, and they can quickly and accurately read people and situations. They must also know the law and can remain calm and focussed under pressure. All our process servers are professionals with years of experience, who have handled a vast range of situations.

  • Why do legal papers need to be served?

By serving the legal documents, the other party has been made fully aware of the details of the claim against them, and they have received all the relevant documents. The process servers also act as witnesses that provide proof of service, so the party being served cannot deny being served their documents.

  • What do to if you get served papers?

If you’ve been served papers, take some time to deal with the possible emotional response and ramifications for yourself and your family. You must respond to the papers within 30 days. If you do not respond, you may be called in to court.

  • What happens if someone refuses to be served?

If someone does not accept the documents being served, and repeated attempts have been made by the process server, the party trying to serve the documents may bring a motion in court for an order allowing them to use an alternative or substitute method of service.