Consider Yourself Served: A Brief History of Service of Process

By: Robert B. George, Esquire

With applicable Rules of Civil Procedure going back to the days of the Magna Carta, service of process has a long standing history in the judicial system and is an integral part of ensuring that due process is upheld.

The Magna Carta is the first document outlining individual rights and established that everyone is subject to laws – even ruling parties such as kings and queens.  Most notably among such rights is the right to a fair trial.  Process servers are a necessary part of the underlying process so as to ensure one’s right to a fair trial, as those involved in a legal proceeding must be aware of such involvement.

Created in 1215 due to England’s King John’s unfair taxation and the siege of London, The Magna Carta has now influenced other human rights and related documents – most notably of which being the United States Constitution. The Magna Carta’s foundation led the way for process servers, who provide an integral step in both ensuring and providing for a fair trial, as an individual must be notified of their involvement in a legal proceeding in order that they might have an appropriate opportunity to defend themselves.

The United States Constitution continues the legacy of the Magna Carta as concerns the service of process with specific clauses supporting the rights of its citizens, such as, but not limited to, the 5th and 14th Amendments.  Specifically, the 14th Amendment states that “[A]ll persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The 6th Amendment of the United States Constitute specifically outlines the need for legal notice to be provided by process servers, wherein it states that “[I]n all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right…to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation…”

Service of process continues today as a very important part of our legal system. Process servers should not be viewed as bearer of bad news, but rather as a necessary and integral part of the legal system by which to both protect and ensure every individual’s right to due process as a citizen of the United States. Although process service will not go away, it will inevitably evolve as technology is changing the legal landscape with automation, electronic notice, and such.

If you should find yourself in need of counsel as a result of being served with legal process of some kind, it is important that you consult with an attorney that has experience with such matters.

The Law Firm of DiOrio & Sereni, LLP is a full-service law firm in Media, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. We strive to help people, businesses and institutions throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania solve legal problems – and even prevent legal problems before they occur.  To learn more about the full range of our specific practice areas, please visit or contact Robert B. George, Esquire at 610-565-5700 or at [email protected].

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