Definition of Agent for Service of Process

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This is a legal term referring to the person or company designated to accept the service of process on behalf of the company.

What is an agent for service of process?

Also known as a registered agent or agent of service, an agent for service of process refers to the individual designated by the company to be the individual who would receive any legal papers that may be “served” on the company. This is not only a function at the company’s main headquarters, where it is officially incorporated. It is also a function that must be designated in each state where the business operates.

Each state has its own laws regarding how this process is to be:

  • Set up
  • Documented
  • Registered with that particular state

Being the agent of service for a company does not mean that individual is legally culpable for the claims issued in the legal documents being served. That person is the conduit that gets the information from the plaintiff or accusatory company to the defendant company.

As an agent of service, an individual may not be personally served papers but may receive a certified return receipt document via the United States mail service.

Why is having an agent for service of process important to my business?

You need to have an appointed agent of service for your company because it’s the law. Every LLC or corporation needs to have a designated agent of service. In the absence of one, either the company owner/president or the board chairman becomes the company’s agent of service by default.

What is the history of the term agent of service?

The development of the agent of service has its roots in due process. As part of the 1215 Magna Carta, British land barons demanded of King John that “no free man may be:

  • Taken or imprisoned
  • Ousted of his lands
  • Outlawed
  • Banished
  • Hurt in any way.”

It continued to state, “nor will we [the king] go against him, nor send our officers against him, save by lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.”

The American founding fathers then incorporated the concept into the U.S. Constitution in 1787, stating that “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.”

In 1970, the U.S. Supreme Court further defined this section of the Constitution by adding a clause requiring proof beyond a reasonable doubt for conviction of a crime.

The process of being served via U.S. mail was sent forth via proposed legislation in 1982.

Other terms similar to agent of service that can assist you

  • Limited liability corporation (LLC): A legal entity that combines the benefits of corporations, general partnerships, and sole proprietorships business structures under one umbrella.
  • Writ: an order or mandatory process in writing issued in the name of the sovereign or of a court or judicial officer commanding the person to whom it is directed to perform or refrain from performing an act specified therein

Summary of the definition of agent of service

The company’s agent of service is the individual who has been defined as the person authorized to receive any legal summons on behalf of the company receiving the document.

Similar glossary definitions you must know

  • Served: As in, “You’ve been served.” The process used when a legally approved individual delivers a writ or summons to the company or person named in a lawsuit associated with the document being provided.

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