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What is the procedure for process serving?

Region: Ontario Answer # 3007

A process server must serve documents in strict accordance with provincial laws and regulations. While each province may legislate the different methods and timelines allowed for the serving of documents, the overall process is the same.

There are a number of steps that must be taken for documents to be legally served. A process server must:

Step 1: Make copies of documents being served

Check the copies of the documents against the original to make sure that they are the same. Copies must be made for all parties being served, and one copy to attach to the Affidavit of Service (signed by the process server, which confirms the documents were served).

Step 2: Serve documents

Deliver the documents (called process) to the parties involved in the legal action.

Delivery methods depend on who is being served, what type of document, and in what province, but the most common methods include personal service and substituted service. (view topic 3008 What methods of service does a process server use to deliver documents?) Other delivery options may include by registered or certified mail, regular mail or by any other means of communication where the sender is not required to provide proof of delivery (as in Quebec where service is referred to as notification).

Step 3: Make note of information for Proof of Service

The process server must record the date, time, and location that the documents were served, as well as the identification that the person being served showed, such as a driver’s license number.  This information will later be included in the Affidavit of Service.

Step 4: Complete Affidavit of Service or Proof of Service form

An Affidavit of Service is a notarized document that provides proof that the papers were served. It is available from the court or online at the court website. View topic 3009 What is an affidavit of service or proof of service for more information. The Affidavit of Service is completed by the process server.

Step 5: Attach the copies of the documents that were served to the Affidavit

The process server will identify each document separately, for example, as an “Exhibit”. If more than one document is served, they will be identified as “Exhibit A,” “Exhibit B”, etc.

Step 6: Swear to service / notarize Affidavit of Service and documents

The Affidavit and documents must then be sworn or affirmed in front of a lawyer, notary public, commissioner of oaths, or a clerk at the court. Once the Affidavit of Service is notarized it can be used as proof that the documents were served.

Step 7: Deliver proof of service to requesting party

Provide the court – or other party who required the documents to be served – with the documents and notarized Affidavid of Service proving that the papers have been delivered.

Get help

For more information on the process for serving documents view the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General Guide to Serving Documents in Small Claims Court, Guide to Serving Documents in Family Court, or check with your provincial courthouse. Visit our Links.

To hire a process server to serve legal documents, file court documents, conduct legal searches, or for other services, contact our preferred experts:

Ontario Wide Process Servers

Lormit Personal Services


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