In Civil matters, is an unsigned proof of service invalid? If so, what court rule and/or CCP apply?

Asked about 2 years ago - Bakersfield, CA

The documents were served from the plaintiff attorney.

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Marilynn Mika Spencer

    Contributor Level 20

    6

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . The proof of service is a record of the service, made after the fact, to prove the service was accomplished.

    What you are asking about is one of the procedural issues that makes some attorneys and legal secretaries crazy. Because the proof of service is to prove the document was served (that is, deposited in a mailbox, overnight delivery container, or personally delivered) it cannot be signed truthfully until the document is actually served. That means the proof of service has to be sent out without a signature because the proof of service gets sent with the document being served.

    Most law firms, including mine, include the blank proof of service to let the recipient know there is a proof of service, then after the document has been served, the person who served it signs a copy of the proof of service that is held in the office. If there is ever an issue, the attorney will have the signed proof of service to prove service was effected.

    Because this can be, well, sort of silly, some law firms sign the proof of service before serving and include a signed copy with the document being served. Other law firms are exceptionally attentive and, after the document is served, sign a proof of service and then send a copy of the signed proof of service separately.

    If you find this confusing, rest assured you are not alone. Those of us in the legal profession are used to it but it must be confusing, and even weird, to people who don't spend every day dealing with lots and lots of legal rules.

    *** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your... more
  2. Frank Wei-Hong Chen

    Contributor Level 20

    3

    Lawyers agree

    1

    Answered . It might. What documents are you referring to? Is it a discovery request? A discovery response? A motion? An opposition to a motion? An unsigned proof of service throws into question when a document was actually served, and may create an issue with regard to when a response is due or whether a motion or an opposition or a reply is timely.

    Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is... more
  3. Michael Raymond Daymude

    Contributor Level 20

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Ms. Spencer states the rule and reason your copy of a proof of service may not include a signature. However, if the document is one which is filed with the court you should be able to verify it was actually signed by viewing the court file.

    However, even if unsigned, that does not mean the service is invalid. Perhaps it was just an oversight which can easily be corrected with a signature. So long as you received timely notice it is unlikely you will be able to take advantage of an unsigned proof of service since you could not show prejudice.

    I am licensed in California only and my answers on Avvo assume California law. Answers provided by me are for... more

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