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What happens if a process server can’t serve you?

Region: Ontario Answer # 3014

If a process server is not able to serve documents, it is usually because the person has refused to accept them, was not home, or is deliberately avoiding being served. The consequences of this depend on the type of documents being served and the laws regarding service where you live.

In some cases, if it can be proven that you deliberately avoided being served after every acceptable method of service was used, legal action may be taken against you.

In other cases, if you refuse to accept documents, or if you were not available to accept them, and repeated attempts have been made by the process server, an application may be made to the court for an order to use an alternative or substitute method of service.

Alternative methods of service may include:

  • Leaving documents with someone else at your home or business
  • Attaching documents to your door or leaving them in a mailbox
  • Mailing or faxing documents
  • Emailing documents

Is service of documents ever not required?

It is also possible, although not common, that a judge decides the service of documents is not required. This might happen if all reasonable efforts to find and serve the other party were used without success and no other methods for delivery that might work are available. However, a judge must be satisfied that there is no other way to reach the other party before they will consider issuing this order.

It is important to note that a problem with serving documents does not stop a lawsuit from going forward, although it may slow down the procedure.

For more information on the laws regarding the service of documents in Ontario, view our Links.

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