Thoughts on Being Your Own Agent for Service of Process
Here in San Diego and elsewhere in California, corporations, limited liability companies, and limited partnerships are required by law to designate an “agent for service of process.” This is part of the process of setting up your corporate entity and, as long as you are running your business through a corporate entity, you are required to have an agent for service of process. If, for whatever reason, your current agent can no longer serve as your agent, you must designate a new one. In this article, we offer some thoughts on why it might be best to avoid being your own agent for service of process.
To explain what an agent for service of process is, one must start with a definition of “process.” Legally speaking, “process” is the mechanism by which you or your business is notified of a lawsuit and is thereby brought under the jurisdiction of the California court system. Fundamental considerations of fairness require that no lawsuit can go forward to a judgment without the target of the lawsuit having notice of the lawsuit and an opportunity to defend the lawsuit. Suppose, for example, that there is an accident at your business location — say, a slip and fall. If the person who was injured brings a lawsuit, your business would receive a copy of the lawsuit. The copy of the lawsuit is usually delivered personally by a county Sheriff deputy or by a professional process server. Once served, your business would then take steps to respond to the lawsuit very quickly (usually within 30 days).
Your agent for service of process is the person that your corporation, LLC, or limited partnership has officially designated to personally receive the copy of the lawsuit. Your agent would then forward the lawsuit to you. Since the time limit for responding to the lawsuit is short, it is important that you trust your agent to immediately notify you of the lawsuit. An experienced San Diego corporate attorney can act as an agent for service of process. You can also choose other professionals such as an accountant or hire a company that specializes in receiving process. While a member of senior management can also be appointed to serve as the agent, there are a few reasons to avoid that including:
- More privacy: The name and address of the agent for service of process is public and easily obtained; using a trusted corporate attorney or other professional avoids having your name and address “out there” to be swept up into advertising and marketing databases
- Lost time needed for legal matters: Senior management is usually focused on running the business and there is a danger that process might get “lost” among the mail and other papers
- Avoiding the hassle: Likewise, dealing with the process server and the papers is just one more task that distracts from doing business; better to delegate
- Non-standard business hours: Similarly, if your business is the type of business with non-standard office hours, you need to hire an agent since the Sheriff and other process servers usually work during normal business hours
Call San Diego Corporate Law Today
For more information, call experienced business attorney Michael Leonard, Esq., of San Diego Corporate Law. Call Mr. Leonard at (858) 483-9200 or contact him via email. Mr. Leonard’s law practice is focused on business, transactional, and corporate matters and he proudly provides legal services to business owners in San Diego and the surrounding communities. Like us on Facebook.