E-Case Management: Memorializing Service and Certificates of Service
A Certificate of Service doesn’t matter until it does; and when it matter, it becomes critical.
For starters, Certificates of Service are a page located at the end of a pleading, motion, response, reply, discovery request or discovery response which memorializes how the document was served. Very often, Certificates of Service (or “COS”) will look as follows:
I certify that the foregoing was served on all counsel/parties of record on November 20, 2020, by ECF filing.
For an electronic filing this suffices because the real proof of service is the electronic verification, automatically sent by the filing system. But this also misses the real utility of a Certificate of Service. The better practice is to indicate who is being served, the email used for that service, and if an individual is served by something other than email, the Certificate of Service should include the actual address and the method of service. See examples below:
Via Electronic Filing & Email
Jane Smith, Esq.
123 Lawyer Lane, Suite 300
Denver, CO 80237
Via CMRRR No. 12020303929103
2122 Vampire Lane
Scranton, PA 00203
(CMRRR is Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested, followed by the confirmation
number assigned by USPS).
A Certificate of Service that contains the above information will tell the reader who was served, how, and where. It will also allow tracking that is more robust than searching through emails and green return cards.
A Certificate of Service is not just an administrative requirement. It can be leveraged as a tool when things go wrong. Effective use of this tool can be case saving at critical stages of the case, if and when disputes arise regarding service and notice.
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