What is Process Serving and Court Filing?

What is Process Serving and Court Filing? If you have been wronged in some way and felt like your rights have been trampled upon, you can seek legal counsel in other to take the matter to court.

Bear in mind that, taking the matter to court will involve: finding a lawyer, paying court fees, handling paperwork, and getting to know all the terms specific to the legal and juridical areas. However, the two most important terms you have to be familiar with before starting a lawsuit are “Process Serving” and “Court Filing”.


What is Process Serving and Court Filing?


Process Serving


Process serving is a judicial procedure created to ensure that the “Due Process of Law” is followed. Meaning that all the legal procedures established by law must be observed accordingly, including the respect of one’s own legal rights. Basically, It involves formally communicating with the party or parties involved in the legal proceedings, such as:

  • Notifying that a lawsuit was filed against them
  • That they were summoned to court

Process serving ensures that the legal proceeding is established fairly and continuously during the legal proceeding, by keeping all parties up-to-date on the status of the legal process and what they can or must do about it.


Court Filing


Court filing, on the other hand, is a rather bureaucratic procedure aimed at keeping track of the lawsuit and of each request being made by each party, and also to organize and maintain complete documentation of the case. It consists of submitting every legal paperwork that is involved in the case to the court for it to be analyzed and stored. This ensures that proper legal procedure was observed, should in case it comes up during the hearing.

Most courts In Canada, require that every document that is presented to another party should be also filed in the court, which is called mandatory filing. Some countries such as the US, follow permissive filing, meaning that the documents only need to be filed when the case is reaching the point where they will need to be presented to ensure the procedure was followed, such as a trial.


Filing documents


The procedure of court filing consists in delivering the documents in duplicate (sometimes in triplicate) to the court’s clerk. The clerk then inspects the documents, to confirm whether they follow appropriate formatting, then assigns them to their court case number or caption (or assigns them new ones, if the document being filed is the one opening the case), and finally stamps them. Delivering one copy back to the filing party, keeping one for the court records, and, in the cases where three copies where requested, send the third one to the judge assigned to the case.




Recently, some courts in the US, not in Canada have been accepting documents sent electronically, a procedure dubbed “e-filling”. How does it work? So instead of physically presenting the documents to the clerk, uploading a scanned version of them through the Internet in PDF format, along with the rest of the information pertaining it, such as case number or caption. Which allows it to be done outside of business hours. However, when doing so, it is also required to provide the judge with a physical copy (called a “courtesy copy”) of the document the next business day.




Now that you have an idea What is Process Serving and Court Filing?, my question to you is: what do you think about the differences in these services in the US and Canada?