Amendments to Alabama Rule of Civil Procedure 4
ARCP 4 – On July 1, 2016, the following changes went into effect in amending portions of Alabama Rule of Civil Procedure 4, addressing service of parties to a civil lawsuit.
- Rule 4(a)(2) is amended to require that the summons served on the defendant should include notice that entry of a default judgment is a possible consequence of a served defendant’s failure to appear or to defend, rather than an automatic result, as the previous language suggested.
- Rule 4(c)(2) requires service on a minor by and through his or her mother, father, or other representative as set out in the rule and, in addition, previously required that minors over 12 years of age be served personally. The rule is amended to require separate, additional personal service only on minors over the age of 16, it appearing that separate delivery of legal process to minors under that age is without practical benefit.
- Rule 4(c)(5) is amended to incorporate the contemporaneous amendment to Rule 4(c)(2) limiting the requirement for separate personal service to minors over the age of 16 to require personal service on an incarcerated minor only if the minor is over the age of 16.
- Rule 4(h) is amended to state the manner for acceptance or waiver of service of process — by a document signed by a defendant and filed in the manner set out in the amended rule.
- Rule 4(i)(1)(B) is amended to require that persons designated to serve process under this section must be not less than nineteen (19) years of age and must not be a party to the action or related within the third degree by blood or marriage to the party seeking service of process.
- Rule 4(i)(1)(C) is amended to specifically encompass service on both the defendant and substituted service on other persons who may be served on the defendant’s behalf as provided by Rule 4(c). The amendment sets out new, specific requirements as to how service of process is to be made and how the return of service is to be made. There has been a significant increase in the number of cases in which a plaintiff elects to use a person designated for service of process rather than the sheriff or other officer, and this amendment addresses that change by providing detailed procedural guidance. This section now sets out with specificity the manner in which service must be made and how it must be returned to the clerk of the issuing court. The amendments to the second paragraph of this section set out in detail the information identifying the server that must be provided on each of the respective returns made by sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, constables, or persons designated for service of process.
- Rule 4(i)(1)(D) is amended to increase to sixty (60) days the time in which a person serving process must make a return to the clerk of court upon failure of service as a more practical time frame than the previous thirty (30) day period, considering the administrative procedures involved.
- Rule 4(i)(2)(D) is amended to increase to sixty (60) days the time in which undelivered certified mail must be returned, conforming this subsection to the contemporaneous amendment to Rule 4(i)(1)(D).
Photo by Beth Cortez-Neavel.