Court deadlines for service of documents

13 Feb 2014

There are certain rules for the service of documents such as claim forms and witness statements. These rules are worth bearing in mind when you enter into litigation as you need to plan your time effectively to ensure you meet all court deadlines correctly.

Missing a court deadline because of incorrect service of documents can be costly if your claim can no longer proceed or proceeds in the absence of salient documents being able to be replied upon at court.

As a general rule, documents must be served by first class post, ‘DX’ which is a document exchange service used by many solicitors and other professionals or other services that provide for delivery on the next business day. Service of documents by fax or email is also permitted as long as the party being served has previously provided these contact details and have not indicated that they do not accept service by these means.

If documents are served by post they are deemed served the second business day after posting. If for example, a document was posted on a Friday, it would be deemed served the following Tuesday providing the Monday was not a Bank Holiday.

Where it is not possible to serve parties using conventional methods, the rules allows you to make an application to court for permission to serve by other means.

In previous cases, the Court have allowed service through Facebook and Twitter. It such cases, the party making the application had to show that the other party is the owner of the account and that the account is active.

The use of social media for service has become normal procedure in Australia and New Zealand and while we are a long way from this, the Court has shown a willingness to utilise more modern forms of communication and such methods are particular useful where difficulties arise using the standard means of service.