What happens when someone refuses to be served with court proceedings or legal documents in New Zealand?
April 28, 2023
In most cases a recipient or defendant will readily accept service of court proceedings (legal documents). Sometimes a recipient or defendant may actively avoid service. As licensed private investigators we have the advantage over many process servers and process serving company’s in New Zealand.
The rules of service are simple:
If the process server (legal document sever) can identify a person (recipient or defendant), either
- They confirm their identity.
- or the process server has a description or photograph of the recipient or defendant.
Once positive identification is made, the courts rules of service allows the court proceedings (legal documents) to be left at their feet or within clear visibility of the recipient or defendant. In this instance an affidavit of service sworn or affirmed by the process server will likely be required, as there is every chance that the recipient may deny ever being served.
A recipient or defendant can also be served by an order for substituted service, this means the court proceedings (legal documents) can be left at the individuals home address, workplace or with someone who has contact with the recipient or defendant.
According to the New Zealand District Court Rules
“If reasonable efforts have been made to serve a document by a method permitted or required under these rules, and either the document has not come to the knowledge of the person to be served or it cannot be promptly served, the court or a Registrar may—
(a) direct —
- (i) that instead of service, specified steps be taken that are likely to bring the document to the notice of the person to be served; and
- (ii) that the document be treated as served on the happening of a specified event, or on the expiry of a specified time.”
Types of substituted service:
- Leaving the documents with a relative or friend that is believed to know the whereabouts of the recipient (this is the most common method).
- By way of advertisement in the public notices section of regional and national newspapers.
- Email – if it can be established that the recipient actively uses the email account.
- Social Media – i.e Facebook may be allowed if there is evidence to establish that a Facebook page is, in fact, that of the person to be served and that the persons is actively using their account. Check out our article How document service is changing with social media.