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Case Study – Process Serving – Always use an experienced agent

We received a call one day from a lawyer with whom we worked on a regular basis and whose speciality was matters involving domestic violence.

When our agent arrived in his office he noticed that the solicitor’s face was badly battered and bruised.  The first thing he said was “I am never going to try and do your job again”.

The story unfolded that a badly battered wife had come to him for assistance.  He was making an application for an injunction and needed to serve it on his client’s husband.  As he lived close by he decided he would try and serve it himself.  The house was a small, terraced property in north west London with a twenty yard path to the door.  He decided to call there early one morning and took the wife along to identify him.  The idea was that the wife would remain in the car and, if the subject opened the door, he would look back and she would nod if it was her husband.

Everything went to plan, the husband opened the door, the wife nodded and the solicitor said “Hello, I am acting for your wife and I’ve got some papers for you …..”.  Before he could say any more the husband punched him in the face and knocked him down.  The solicitor tried to escape down the path but was knocked down again and kicked.  When he reached the car he couldn’t get in because the wife had locked the door from inside.  He received a few more blows before people on their way to work began to stop at which point the man ran back inside and the solicitor was able to get into the car and drive away.

The story does not end there …..  The solicitor wanted us to serve the husband with more papers.  He now would not open the door and so surveillance was kept on the man.  When he left the house and drove off, our agent followed.  Fortunately it was a hot day and the husband had his driver’s window open.  When he stopped at some traffic lights our agent jumped out of his car and served him with the papers through the car window.  The husband, who turned out to be one of the more violent characters we’ve had to deal with, then chased our agent, driving like a complete maniac and eventually rammed his car.  Our agent jumped out of the car and the man attacked him.  However, on this occasion the man had more than met his match.

We went through the process of serving him with various documents and each time he was aggressive, on one occasion throwing a petrol bomb at our agent’s car.  He was eventually imprisoned for contempt of court.  At first he was abusive to the judge and the court staff but, after being brought back to court four times to purge his contempt, he relented.  He had spent some nine months in jail.

It shows that the system works.  With some stubborn and aggressive people it can take longer but it does work.