My name is Paul, I am a retired Police Officer who served in the Kent Police Force for 27 years, followed by 2 years as a Civilian Crime Investigator. I have been a Process Server with the National Centre for Domestic Violence for 12 years.
Who am I?
As a victim (known legally as the applicant) you might be informed that a Process Server will serve your Family Court documents.
So, what is a Process Server? Who am I? What do I do?
Well, I am not a bailiff. I am a person that gives out (usually known as ‘serves’) non-molestation orders (usually known as injunctions), notice of a hearing, applications for non-molestation orders and statements of abuse.
I am experienced in victim support, I have compassion, integrity and can be trusted with confidential information. I do not and would never disclose any information about a victim or their family.
I carry out my duties professionally and alone, the only person I see as a Process Server is the respondent – a husband, wife, ex-partner, relative or someone else who is intent on harming the victim mentally or physically. Sometimes I liaise with the Police but not very often.
I engage with the victim and their solicitor. The solicitor is the one who gives the advice at all times and any concerns should always be referred to NCDV.
How do I usually operate?
I start my day with a cup of tea and a read of the newspaper. When I’m needed, I’ll get a call from NCDV, usually it’s Nunzia but could also be Michael or Uta.
I’ll receive an instruction to collect the Court case documents, usually from the Canterbury Family Court. The staff at the Family Administration Department are a friendly bunch and very efficient.
The documents are ready for me at the Court, sealed in a large white envelope. I drive back to my office which happens to be a spare room in my house. I then scan all the documents and send a copy to the solicitor involved and NCDV.
Before I leave to serve the documents, I check that they are all there. I read the information sheet and sometimes the statement to give me some idea of what the respondent looks like, their habits, conduct and importantly to see if they are violent. I check the respondent’s post code, to ascertain information on the location and the type of property. When this is all completed, I contact the victim by phone. This is so they are aware that I am on my way to serve the court documents and to gain any further information on the respondent that may assist with a speedy and safe serving of the documents.
Serving the documents
Upon arriving at the respondent’s address, I check the surrounding area to see if the respondent’s vehicle is nearby (gives me some idea as to whether they are home). On a straight forward service at the door I introduce myself and the reason for my attendance. Once I am confident I have the right person, I hand over the documents and provide a brief explanation as to what they are. This process usually all goes well with no threats of violence or abusive language.
Do not worry if the respondent is in prison. I book a visit to the prison where they are located, after the checks and searches have taken place I am allowed into a secure place to serve the Court documents on the respondent personally. This way the victim has peace of mind that when their abuser is released from prison the Court order will be in force.
How am I operating during lockdown?
These are strange times, they affect us all, including the legal system! We all must remain safe and alert that is why at present we now serve all Court documents by email or phone. This is legal and victims are still covered by the conditions of the Court order. The order does not need to be served personally and is currently only done so as a last resort.
I will contact the victim to gain information such as the respondent’s phone number or email address, if I have not acquired them already. I then call the respondent and inform them briefly about the reason why I am calling. I get them to confirm I have the correct email address. Once this is completed, I send a copy of the Court documents to the respondent and highlight the need for the respondent to contact the Court. At present all Court cases are carried out through a video link with the respondent and victim so no one needs to appear in Court. Once the email is sent, I wait for confirmation that it has been received, if I don’t get it I will call the respondent to confirm receipt.
Completing the serve
Once the serve is made, I type out a statement of service which includes how and when I served the Court documents to the respondent.
I send a copy of this statement to the solicitor and to NCDV, this ensures they are aware of my actions and that the Judge is fully aware that the Court order has been served legally and professionally.
A copy of my statement of service and the Court order is also sent to the police service in the victim’s area. This is so that the police can act on any breaches of the order and that they have the documents to make an arrest if needed.
Once this is all complete, I then call the victim with an update about what has happened and to answer any questions in relation to my role as the process server.
Final word from me…
Always phone the police if you are in fear of the respondent or anyone acting on their behalf breaking any condition of the Court order. Also, make notes of these events so you have a record of what is happening and when. Finally, contact your solicitor as soon as possible to update them on the situation.
Remember you are not alone, support is here for you, you have made a big step forward to a peaceful, safe and enjoyable life just by reading this.
Paul, Process Server