Bread and butter business
A large part of our business at Tremark involves serving documents such as injunctions, orders, applications and petitions on behalf of our clients. We do this all over the UK via our network of experienced field agents for a flat fee of just £95+Vat.
The good, the bad and the ugly
In theory, serving papers is a straightforward process. We receive the legal documents at our Leeds or London office, assign the task and carry out the instruction within seven days (sometimes on the same day with our express service). In practice, it can be fraught with problems. We do make up to three repeat visits, including one out-of-hours call, should our subject prove to be elusive, and we have plenty of experience dealing with what can be emotional – and sometimes aggressive – situations. But there’s always the chance that things can escalate.
Don’t shoot the messenger
One case that recently caught my eye in the international press was that of hapless US citizen, Douglas Dendringer, who got considerably more than he bargained for when he agreed to serve papers at a local courthouse on behalf of a client who was filing a lawsuit against a police officer in Washington Parish.
The reaction from the officer was one of anger – not an uncommon response, as any process server will confirm. However, Dendringer claims that this simple action (for which he was paid just $50) sparked off an alleged two-year campaign of harassment by the officer, aided and abetted by corroborative witness statements from other police officers and two prosecutors. Dendringer was accused of battery plus obstruction of justice and intimidating a witness, both of which carry a maximum of 20 years in prison.
The crucial piece of evidence
Fortunately, Dendringer had one critical piece of evidence on his side: mobile phone footage of him serving the papers. Dendringer had asked his wife who happened to be with him at the time, to record the scene, to show he’d served the summons properly if asked about it later. The footage gave a lie to the witness statements, the case was dropped and Dendringer is now pursuing a civil lawsuit against those involved for a bunch of violations, including abuse of due process.
It’s a sobering thought and sounds like the script of a TV drama. Thankfully, we’ve never had to defend our process servers from this kind of conspiracy but it just goes to show that even the simplest transaction can have far-reaching consequences. And it certainly makes our service look like great value for money!