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Service of process is the procedure of giving legal notice to a defendant, a person or company being sued, of a court's exercise of its jurisdiction over that defendant. The notice allows the defendant to respond to the proceeding before the court.
Notice is given by delivering (the “service”) a legal document (the “process”) to the defendant or the defendant’s representative. Typically, the legal document served is a summons, a notice of legal action that also provides the time period allowed for a response. Often the summons is accompanied by a complaint which explains the subject of the legal action and the desired outcome. For example, an individual may be seeking monetary damages for harm allegedly caused by a company’s product.
When a corporation or LLC is the defendant in a lawsuit, the court obtains jurisdiction by serving process on the company’s Registered Agent (also referred to as “Agent for Service of Process”).
CT Tip: Under a strict definition, Service of Process refers to the delivery of legal paperwork to the party being sued. However, the term is often used to describe the various important documents the company’s Registered Agent is responsible for receiving. Most commonly included are litigation-related documents such as subpoenas for testimony or company records, and compliance correspondence from the government for annual report and tax filings.