Tuesday, July 20, 2010
SERVECENTRAL: Revolutionizing the Service of Legal Processes
I stumbled upon an interesting site, http://www.serve-central.com/ , which offers web-based serving of Legal Processes. Curiously, I tried searching if there is a similar site for Process Serving in our country, but the closest I found was http://www.processserver.net.au/services/processserverphilippines.html, which is a mere advertisement of a Process Server.
As the name implies, Process Servers deliver legal documents such as subpoenas, writs, summons, complaints, orders and other court documents to a defendant or an individual involved in a court case. Service of process in the Philippines is usually accomplished by various methods depending on the circumstances of the case, such as by registered mail to the last known address, by publications, and personal service which may also be made by other officers of the court, including attorneys.
On the other hand, in the US, there is this Process Serving System in the internet called ServeCentral. Servecentral is a free web-based application that allows law firms in the US to conduct Service of Process over the internet. It provides subscribers the ability to create user accounts, upload documents electronically, and send documents over the internet to users who are attorneys, paralegals, clerks, process servers, collection companies, mortgage companies, others involved in the litigation process and related end-users who are involved in Serving Process and activities relating thereto, including, but not limited to, writ services, court filings, records retrieval, skip traces searches, private investigations, courier services, enforcement of judgments, garnishments, court and litigation research, document reproductions, notary services, bank levies and related activities may locate and select process servers, provide information to assist involved parties in effecting service of process and may monitor the engaged process server’s efforts to effect service-of-process.
How does it work? First, clients should register for an account. Upon login, a Client may create new serves, upload serve packages, monitor serve status, communicate with their Process Server and manage all their serves. A simple dashboard provides an at-a-glance summary of the status of all the client’s cases. E-mail notifications keep the client informed of every development.
Process Servers are invited to join ServeCentral by clients (law firms, attorneys, paralegals) and may not join without such invitation. The Process servers are notified through a ServeCentral electronic transmission indicating they have a serve awaiting their acceptance. This will be through e-mail, text message, and/or the Process Server checking their account.
After the process has been served, the Process Server, through ServeCentral notifies the client that service has been completed. An electronic Affidavit of Service (Proof of Service) will be available to the client, followed by a hard copy of the Affidavit of Service through the mail.
But then of course, the web application is free but the service is not. Upon the clients’ online review and acceptance of the itemized receipt of service, a copy of that receipt is sent to the client automatically, itemizing the costs for that serve. Process servers will then be paid directly by ServeCentral once the itemized service fee(s) have been reviewed and approved by the client within ServeCentral, along with the completion of the associated serve as indicated by the receipt of the electronic Affidavit of Service. To use the site, law firms pay a nominal fixed fee per service (in addition to the process server's fees).
But then again, the question of data security comes in. ServeCentral LLC guarantees data security claiming that it partnered with a leader in the Data Hosting industry. The ServeCentral data is allegedly contained in data centers which are designed with redundancy installed at every level, ensuring that a failure at any level will not affect ability to Process Service.
The advantages of this system are not hard to decipher: it eliminates printing costs, courier/messenger expenses and more importantly, it saves a lot of time. However, there is a caveat in their terms and conditions: there are clauses which state that ServeCentral makes no warranty and that it has a limited liability in case there is a problem in the Process Service. But then again, even the traditional way of Process Serving has its own risks and inconveniences.
This is just one of the promising ventures which the internet has to offer for the improvement of the legal processes. Adopting a similar system here in our country would contribute greatly to the speedy disposition of cases. People in the legal system should think forward and consider utilizing the internet in order to make the system more efficient and perhaps cut on the costs as well.
-Gen S. (3rd)
Posted by Gen Santiago at 9:26 AM