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Service of documents

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You have brought a claim against your adversary who is referred to in your claim form as the defendant. You would have instructions in your claim form as to how the defendant must proceed on receipt, but the document must be first served. Part 5 of CPR 2000 provides the authority for service of documents within our jurisdiction. Any deviation from it could have serious consequences.{{more}}

Service on the Defendant

After your Lawyer files the claim form (with or without the statement of claim accompanied by the acknowledgement of service and the defence (blank forms)), he must secure a process server to serve the documents on the defendant. The defendant could be served at home, on the street, at work, but service cannot be done at church or a place of worship. Service must not be effected in the court or on the grounds of the court house. Bailiffs of the High Court or Magistrate’s court may be contacted to serve claim forms and the other documents which accompany it. The claim form must be served personally on the defendant. Service could be effected by handing the document to the defendant. If he refuses, it could be left at his feet. The bailiff could question the defendant about his identity if he does not know him personally, as the bailiff is required to swear to an affidavit about the mode of service. Details of service, specifically about the place, time and date of service have to be given.

Other persons who could be served on behalf of the defendant

A legal practitioner could be served personally, but the defendant must give him authority in writing to accept service of a claim form. Where the claimant is serving a company or a partnership, the documents could be served personally on an officer or manager designated to accept process. It could also be served on a director, receiver-manager or liquidator of a company. In the case of a minor or patient, a parent or guardian has to be served.

Other forms of service

The law allows for claim form to be sent by prepaid post, FAX or telex, or left at the registered office of that body. Proof of service is required and the person who actually posted or sent the claim form must swear to an affidavit that the document was sent. That affidavit must give the date, time, and in the case of the electronic document the transmission information.

The claim form must be served within six months of filing. If this is not done within that time, then an order of the court extending the time must be sought. Subsequent documents may be served on the defendant’s Lawyer.

Action after service

A defendant who is served within the jurisdiction of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has fourteen days to respond to the documents. If he intends to retain a Lawyer, these documents must be taken immediately to the Lawyer. The acknowledgement of service that was served with the other documents must be completed and filed in the court. If the defendant fails to take action, a default judgment could be awarded to the Claimant. If the defendant acknowledges service but does not present a defence, a default judgment could also be made against him or her requiring the payment of any monies claimed. Take care until next week.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
E-mail address is: [email protected]

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