Due Diligence Requirements

(You may find this page at this tiny URL: http://tinyurl.com/DueDilReq)

When a summons is served on an individual defendant, the law requires a "due diligent effort" at personal service before "substituted service" may be made. (See Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 415.20) Each of the California County Superior Courts has different due diligence requirements. Some requirements are written in Local Rules that are subject to change without notice. Most county superior courts' due diligence rules and/or policies are unwritten and vary with each person who warms the default clerk's chair. Some court clerks are new and are still learning on the job. Other clerks may be filling in, covering a position when the main default clerk is out. Some clerks make mistakes. Often the server didn't span out the attempts properly. Whatever happens, the process server takes the hit.

A process server needs to know BEFORE a substituted service is effected so that when it is served, it comports with the originating court's due diligence requirements. Many cases do not result in a default judgment against the defendant, but the court may not grant it if the substituted service does not comply with those written or unwritten requirements.

Court clerks are also rejecting proofs of service when they are filed with the court if the due diligence requirements are not met - before a default is even at issue.

The client and his or her client will be upset because of the rejected proof or default, and the server will be asked to do it again for no additional charge. It will make re-service harder because the defendant would probably recognize the server and would know why they are returning.

This site is one small attempt to gather up all the written rules from as many California Superior Courts that have them. We have only found a few, and the policies may have changed since they were posted. I can't figure out why these due diligence policies are unwritten and remain a peculiarly guarded secret. As a local process server who is familiar with the local court requirements, you can help us expand this process serving resource. Please notify us of any local due diligence requirements. You may do it publicly on the Process Server Institute Group Facebook page or anonymously via email to mailto: moc.etutitsnisp|ynot#moc.etutitsnisp|ynot. If the rule or policy you know or find and it is not in writing. it should be sourced with a name, position, and phone number if possible of the person who told you.

Generally, due diligence is:

  • 3 or 4 separate attempts on different days
  • 3 attempts on any day as long as they are spanned by 6 hours
  • 3 attempts on different days during a specified span of hours
  • Some require a weekend attempt

The due diligence rules vary widely between counties, and occasionally, within a county between branch courts. Some vary between the Limited and Unlimited Jurisdiction cases. Each Presiding Judge has the prerogative to dictate a change that, on the surface, seems arbitrary and peculiar. In most counties, a new Presiding Judge is rotated in every year, after a vote of all judges as a function of the court's administrative process. Some county courts have only one judge.

Local substituted service rules are strictly construed by local courts, especially when a local rule or presiding judge dictates it. If a substituted service diligence requirement is not met, and substantially differs from the court's specified time and "number of days" requirement, the court could reject the proof of service or a request to enter the default. The service previously performed could be invalidated by the court default clerk based on these specific due diligence requirements.

Alternatively, the court could reconsider the clerk's rejection, but it would involve a special filing of an application or motion to the court for appropriate relief.

Fillable Due Diligence form

Due Diligence Requirements by County

The following are specific "due diligence" Local Rules of Court and Court Policies for selected counties. Those not listed have not been found, or there may not be a specific local rule, but may have an informal court policy regarding this. Please notify us of any written or unwritten due diligence policies by providing a court memo, rule, or policy describing them.

Alameda Contra Costa San Bernardino San Diego San Francisco (Court Memo) / San Francisco Local Rule San Joaquin

For suggested updates, please contact: moc.etutitsnisp|ynot#moc.etutitsnisp|ynot

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