During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak the country is in a state of emergency and currently in ‘lockdown’.

Government Guidance:

Stay at home

Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)

If you go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times

Wash your hands as soon as you get home

Do not meet others, even friends or family.

You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.

The judicial system remains live albeit the Courts are improvising how to conduct business, particularly with the use of technology.  See also the Law Society update on legal practitioner key workers, click here.

However, part of the due process of law regularly requires the delivery of legal notices, Court Orders and other time sensitive documents, some with potentially serious consequences if not adhered to.

The delivery of such legal documents falls on the service providers known as Process Servers, a function fulfilled by many members of the Association of British Investigators.

The Process Server carries out an integral part in the flow of justice and therefore will be receiving instructions during these unprecedented, difficult and dangerous times.

The ABI is therefore providing this urgent guide to assist in the continuity of the due process of law.

Subject to direction of the Court to the contrary, the ABI advises its members engaged in process serving as follows:

  1. Electronic Service: Where possible improvise the performance of instructions by the use of technology and whatever methods of communication are available to bring the legal documents to the attention of the addressee that avoids the need for a visit to the recipient’s place of residence or work and/or any personal approach.

  2. Necessity and/or Urgency: In the event of a personal approach being unavoidable, the ABI member may consider it appropriate to identify the necessity and urgency of attempting a visit and/or personal approach. For example Court documents containing a hearing date, non-molestation and other injunctive Orders or directions compelling an act to be done may require a personal approach where electronic service is not available or is undesirable.

  3. Leaving Process at Address or Letterbox Service: Where a personal visit is necessary and urgent the ABI member may consider leaving the process at the recipient’s address will be sufficient and timely notice and may make the appropriate request to the Court, in the evidence of service, that such service method be deemed effective.

  4. Safety: in any event, when a personal visit is unavoidable, necessary and urgent the ABI member MUST take appropriate precautions to remain safe and consider the safety of the recipient and other people that could be contaminated by the transmission of the virus. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD ANYONE BREAK ISOLATION IF SHOWING ANY SIGNS OF THE VIRUS.

Ron Harrison
23 March 2020