Litigation Support: Assessing Addresses in Aid of the Service of Documents

In the last several months we have been providing litigation support to a number of law firms around Ontario with a similar problem. They attempt personal service on a defendant or some other party involved in a litigation with a document, such as  statement of claim; however, the process servers they have hired are unable to locate the defendant at the address on file. The process server makes some preliminary inquiries and then, being unable to locate the party of interest, leaves the statement of claim in an envelope at the address they have on file (or sends it to the last known address), drafts an affidavit stating same and returns the information to the lawyer with their bill.

The lawyer may then attempt an alternative to personal service themselves but may also ultimately end up attending court to ask for an order granting substituted service or to dispense with service all together. A key piece of their motion is the affidavit of the process server and perhaps an old photocopy of the individual’s driver’s license or the most recent corporate profile report of the company if the case involves a corporate defendant.

Based solely on the inquiries we’ve been receiving from lawyers around the province it is clear that Courts are demanding a greater level of effort on the part of moving parties, before granting orders for substituted service. To put it another way it appears that this process, pardon the pun, isn’t sufficient.

It is unclear what the resulting “new standards” will be, we really don’t know how much will verification be enough and it is ultimately up to the Court to decide in each case.  However, we have been able to provide some assistance to our clients at a relatively low cost. Our process of investigative research has helped our clients to assess the addresses they currently have on file for the party of interest. We’ve also aided in identifying new possible addresses for the parties they wish to serve or the contact information for related parties such lawyers who represent the parties of interest or the location of directors or officers of the corporate defendants.

Our service is fairly comprehensive. We don’t just check one source, we check many from social media to public record and cross reference the data to create a fairly comprehensive picture of our findings.  The information we obtain is reportable through either a report of investigation, or through an affidavit prepared by a member of our team. Either of which can be used for the purposes of identifying new locations to attempt service or can be used in aid of a motion for an order for substituted service or dispensing with service altogether.

If you are a lawyer and are currently dealing with a similar situation, I invite you to contact us to learn more about how we might be able to help.



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