Service of Process

The Due Process clauses in the United States Constitution prohibit courts from exercising personal jurisdiction over a defendant unless the defendant has proper notice of the court's proceedings. To meet this rule, courts require plaintiffs to arrange for defendants to be served with a court summons and a copy of the plaintiffs' complaint. These papers are collectively called process.

Typically, it is not enough to simply mail process to the defendant. The summons and complaint must be either given directly to defendants or left with a suitable person at their home or place of business. Service may usually be performed by any adult who is not a party to the lawsuit. Plaintiffs typically hire professional process servers to serve defendants.

Service of Process is the procedure by which a party to a lawsuit gives an appropriate notice of initial legal action to another party (such as a defendant), court, or administrative body in an effort to exercise jurisdiction over that person so as to enable that person to respond to the proceeding before the court, body, or other tribunal.

Notice is furnished by delivering a set of court documents (called "process") to the person to be served.