Saturday, June 13, 2015

Electronic Service of Process in Washington State

Electronic Service of Process in Washington State

Electronic Service of Process (ESOP) of case initiating and other documents going to commercial registered agents in the state of Washington has taken a giant step forward. Yes that is right, if you are process server in the state of Washington and part of your business has been serving process of registered agents like CT, CSC and others, your services may no longer be required.

Senate Bill 5387 was enrolled early last month, meaning it has been signed by the states Governor.  The Bill is entitled UNIFORM BUSINESS ORGANIZATIONS PROVISIONS, essentially it seeks to create uniformity in common provisions governing business organizations and other entities. 

The entire bill is 245 pages long and buried within on pages 22-16 are new provisions, Sec. 1405 and Sec 1411 that define what a commercial registered agent is and how they may be served with Service of Process, Notice, or a Demand on an Entity.  

Sec 1405 (2) A commercial-registered-agent listing statement may include the information regarding acceptance by the agent of service of process, notices, and demands in a form other than a written record as provided in section 1411(5) of this act.
Sec 1411(5) Service of process, notice, or demand on a registered agent must be in a written record, but service may be made on a commercial registered agent in other forms, and subject to such requirements, as the agent has stated in its listing under section 1405 of this act that it will accept.
So what does this mean?  Well it could  mean that service of process could be affected upon a registered agent by electronic means.  Does that mean that the registered agent will publish an email address that you can send process to or does it mean that they will build an online portal for the electronic submission of process or  they may enable some other electronic method for service of process?  Does it mean that all process to Registered Agents will eventually go electronic?

I guess time will tell.   Some might say that the Washington State Process Servers Association or NAPPS should have done something before this bill passed.  I suppose that is a fair statement.  Others in the process serving community might say I don't serve registered agents all that often so this development is not big deal to me. Perhaps that too is fair. 

But my question is what is the process serving community going to do?  Frankly, I don't know and I don't know who does.  But I do know, that this change is a big deal if you are a process server what makes his or her living by hand delivering process.

Those that have been following this blog for the last 5+ years know that I have been advocating for process servers to embrace change and make it work for them.  These changes to the Washington Uniform Business Provisions represent both a threat and an opportunity. A threat if you do nothing about it and an opportunity for those that seek to capitalize on making sure they retain a role in the increasingly digital world.

What do you think?

By Jeff H. Karotkin

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