Sewer Service is an American term which describes ‘the act of a process server stating someone has been personally served when infact they were not’. It is a hot topic in America at the moment – last week the California Attorney General Kamala Harris sued Chase bank over allegations of systemic Sewer Service performed by the bank process servers, amongst other things.
It is alleged that their process servers do not personally serve their documents, despite filing proofs of service that declare under penalty of perjury that service was completed in this way.
Fortunately, we are not aware of any high profile similar cases in the UK, however you would be naive to believe it never happens. American process servers are licenced and regulated, unlike the UK, so if it still happens there, you can almost guarantee that somewhere in the UK, an unlicenced and unregulated process server is saving themselves the cost of repeat attendances by letterboxing documents which they purport to have personally served.
Do how can you ensure this doesn’t happen? The simple fact is that you can’t, and an element of trust is required. However, there are some steps you can take to minimise your risk………..
1. By using a process server who is a member of the Association of British Investigators (the self regulating body of the Private Investigation Industry) you can at least be sure that your process server does not have a Criminal Record – remember anyone can be a process server, even someone with criminal convictions for fraud, and even someone who has been proven to commit perjury in the past! The ABI vet all members, who are required to maintain a current Basic Disclosure confirming they have no convictions.
2. By using a process server who keeps you regularly updated in relation to the ongoing status of your job, you can be confident they have attended an address in person.
3. By using a process server who maintains records of physical descriptions of both respondents and their properties, you can be sure they have actually met the respondent in person. This is is also vital information should service ever be disputed by your respondent!
4. Be wary of asking process servers to act on a ‘no serve no fee’ basis – most of us refuse to do so anyway! By working on this arrangement, there is a financial incentive for your process server to report a ‘positive serve’ and it could be argued that this financial incentive could encourage someone to be ‘economical’ with the facts in order to get their fee. Most good process servers will not offer you a ‘no serve no fee’ option.
5. Establish a long term relationship with one process server instead of picking randomly from an internet search or directory each time you have a requirement.
6. Ask for recommendations from colleagues.
ASH (UK) Process Servers Ltd pride ourselves on providing an open and honest service to our clients. We are confident that should licencing be introduced in the UK, we will already meet the criteria.
Stewart Ashby (Director) is a full member of the Association of British Investigators (there is currently no option for corporate membership) and Nicola Ashby (Director) is a Qualified Paralegal with the Institute of Paralegals.
By instructing ASH you can be assured of a quality, cost effective and compliant service.
Please see our website for more information – www.ash-process-servers.co.uk