Service of Process in The UK
In England and Wales, common practice has evolved to make use of a provision to specify that the service of legal documents can be made on a process agent service located in England or Wales. So “process agent” refers to the representative of a contractual party upon whom court proceedings may be served. The appointment of a process agent thereby removes the need on the serving party to serve proceedings outside of England and Wales.
Article 6.11 of the Civil Procedure Rules provides that: ”Where a contract contains a term providing that, in the event of a claim being started with respect to the contract, the said claim form may be issued by a method or at a specified place as stated in the contract; and a claim solely in respect of that contract is started, the claim form may, as subject to paragraph 2, be issued on the defendant by the method or at a specified place as stated in the contract”.
By appointing a trustworthy and accepted process agent means the serving party can be confident that service will be accepted and not by any way contested by the process agent. The following is an example of a clause used to appoint a process agent.
The [Party] will irrevocably appoints the agent [Name of Process Agent and his address] as its process agent who will be in charge of receiving on its behalf service of any proceedings in connection with this agreement in England and Wales. Such service however shall be deemed completed on delivery to the process agent. In case the agent regardless of his reasons ceases to act as an agent or the agent no longer resident or has an address within England and Wales, the [Party] shall immediately appoint a new process agent and notify the other parties the name and address of the new process agent in England or Wales.
In England and Wales, civil procedure rules are very strict regarding the service of proceedings. If a company is not located in the UK, the service of process can be even more difficult to follow. This is why it is important when trading internationally for a company to hire a process agent for the peace of mind of all concerned.
In the event that services of proceedings are served on the process agent, they will need to forward the documents on to the principal of the company concerned in accordance with their instructions. It should be noted that within a time specified by the Courts, the principal is obliged to respond to the service of proceedings. It is however also important, that the process agent is kept updated by a company official and that he also updates the company with his relevant contact details at all times.