1. What Is Service of Process?
2. Serving the Secretary of State
3. Registered Agent

Delaware service of process takes place any time an individual or a company gives notice of its initial legal action against an individual or a company in the state of Delaware. If you get served, this means you have been notified of someone's intent to sue you or your business. Service of process must be delivered in person to the person being sued or to his or her business's registered agent.

What Is Service of Process?

Any business owners in the state of Delaware should be sure to have a strong understanding of the service of process. Delaware state law requires service of process to be personally delivered to a director or an officer of a corporation registered in the state. If a corporation has a registered agent, the copy of the service of process must be delivered to that entity instead.

If the corporation has chosen another company to act as its registered agent, the service of process can be delivered to the any of the following representatives of this chosen company:

  • President
  • Vice president
  • Secretary
  • Assistant
  • Director

Each service of process has a return date by which the person serving the document must have proof that the documents were properly delivered and received. Delaware requires a service of process that is left at:

  • A home
  • The usual dwelling place
  • A place of business of a director, an officer, or a registered agent of a corporation

The document must be delivered six days or more before the required return date. There must be an adult present to witness the delivery.

Serving the Secretary of State

If the person who is responsible for serving the legal process isn't able to do so in the proper manner or time period, the service of process can be delivered to the SOS (Secretary of State). The office of the SOS will receive the service of process on behalf of the business or individual being served.

When a company or an individual chooses to serve the Delaware SOS, he or she will need to pay the correct fees and follow the appropriate steps. All the information needed for serving the SOS is available online. There are different rules and requirements for serving the SOS in different states. Therefore, you'll want to double check before going through with the process to ensure it's effective.

If you follow the steps and pay the fees, the service of process to the SOS will likely be effective. Once the SOS has been served on behalf of the individual or the company being sued, it will notify that party via mail with a letter to the business. This letter will be sent to the company's usual place of business, which should be on file with the SOS. If the business did not provide an address when it registered with the state, the SOS will send the letter to its registered agent.

Registered Agent

All businesses that register with the SOS in Delaware are required to file information for a registered agent. This helps to ensure that service of process is most effective and efficient between Delaware businesses.

The main purpose of a registered agent is to receive all legal documentation, especially service of process, on behalf of a company. To make sure they are available to receive such documents in a timely manner, registered agents are required to hold regular business hours throughout the week. There should always be a representative available to accept documents during the normal hours of the workday each day of the week.

Once the registered agent receives documents for the company he or she will represent, the registered agent needs to forward them to the company they are meant for as quickly as possible. Failure to do so can easily lead to additional legal trouble for the company being served.

Delaware business owners should take their registered agent selection seriously. Technically, any adult with a Delaware address can act as a registered agent, but it is wise to choose an agent with experience and a good reputation.

A company can choose one of its own members as a registered agent. However, it's a good idea to keep the office of a registered agent separate from the company's main place of business. It doesn't do much good for a business to be receiving service of process documents in front of its customers or clients.

If you need help with Delaware service of process, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.