The service of judicial documents is one of the procedural steps performed by a court as part of the overall court proceedings. In the context of the proceedings, the court serves various documents (such as the application, the summons, the written copy of the judgment, etc.) on the parties to the proceedings, persons involved in the proceedings and other persons.
For the sake of legal certainty and protection of the parties, the service of documents has serious procedural consequences. For example, only a judgment which has been duly served may become final and produce binding effects in respect of the legal relationships to which it refers.
Pursuant to Act No 99/1963 Coll., the Code of Civil Procedure, documents are served either personally on the addressee or by normal post, depending on their type. Documents are served personally on the addressee where this is required by law (e.g. service of the application on the defendant or of the judgment on the parties to the proceedings) or where the presiding judge so decides in a particular case. Other documents are served by normal post.
The bodies responsible for the service of judicial documents are the courts and the bodies effecting service (judicial officers effecting service, bodies of the Judicial Guard, court bailiffs, postal service operators, bodies of the Police of the Czech Republic, bodies of the Prison Guards of the Czech Republic, establishments of institutional care or protective custody, regional military administration, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Justice).
Where the document has not been served by the court during the proceedings or another court act, it is served by the bodies effecting service, by means of a public data network or by posting up on an official notice board.
Documents may be served personally on the addressee or by normal post; alternative service is not possible in certain cases specified by law, in the case of documents to be served personally on the addressee or in the case of documents for which the court has so ordered.
The addressee may choose an address for service in the Czech Republic, which he or she should then notify to the court accordingly.
Documents may be served on representatives of the parties (on the basis of the power of attorney) or on the guardians of the parties (where they have been appointed). Where difficulties arise in the service, the presiding judge may request the party to designate a representative for the purpose of the service; this does not apply where the documents are to be served abroad.
Service by means of a public data network is possible provided that the addressee on whom the document is to be served has an advanced electronic signature, is willing to communicate using the Internet and has agreed to such a type of service. In the case of such a service, the addressee is requested by the court to acknowledge the receipt of the document within three days of the sending of the document, by means of a data message accompanied by his advanced electronic signature. Otherwise, the service of such a document is not valid.
The Code of Civil Procedure makes a distinction between service on natural persons and service on legal entities.
Service on natural persons: Documents may be served on a natural person at the address of his or her residence, place of business, workplace, or at the address of the place where the person dwells or which he or she indicated as the address for service. The body effecting service may serve a document on a natural person not only at the addresses indicated, but also at any other place where the person is found.
Service on legal entities is done at the address of their registered office recorded in the commercial or another public register or at the address where the legal entity has its actual seat. Upon request the court may serve documents on a legal entity at another address in the Czech Republic notified by the legal entity. Documents may be served, on behalf of a legal entity, on the persons and bodies which are authorised to act on its behalf, its employees (members) designated for the service, or other natural persons authorised to do so by the legal entity. If no person or body authorised for the service can be reached, the document is deposited under the same conditions and with the same consequences as in the case of service of documents on natural persons.
Service on other persons: In the case of lawyers, notaries and other legal professions, there are special provisions laying down who in their offices is authorised to be served documents. As regards the service of documents on state bodies, the State, municipalities and local authorities, there are also special provisions specifying who is authorised to be served documents. There is no provision for alternative service for these entities.
A special method of service is to post up documents on an official notice board. This method is applied where stipulated by law; a decision or other document is deemed to have been served on the fifteenth day following its posting up.
Last but not least, the publication of information required by law is also done in the form of court notices in the Commercial Bulletin ("Obchodní věstník").
A distinction has to be made between normal service and service on the addressee in person:
If a party refuses to be served a document, the document is deemed to have been served on the day it was refused; the addressee has to be informed of this consequence. The same applies where the addressee refuses to show proof of identity or to provide the assistance necessary to be served the document correctly. Here too the addressee has to be duly informed of the consequences.
Where a party has a representative with a power of attorney granted for the proceedings, the documents are only served on this representative (e.g. a lawyer). A document served on a representative is not also served on the party unless that party is to act in person in the proceedings (such as to attend a hearing in person to be heard).
Where a guardian has been appointed to a party, documents are served only on the guardian, unless otherwise provided by law. A guardian is appointed, for instance, to a party with an unknown place of residence, a party on which documents failed to be served at the given address abroad, a legal entity which cannot act in the court as a party to the proceedings, etc.
A party with no representative may be requested to appoint a representative for the purposes of service of documents, if the service of documents on the party itself is too complicated or will cause delays (however, this cannot be requested where the service is to be done abroad). If the party does not appoint such a representative, documents addressed to it will be deposited with the court and the service will be deemed to have been effective.
Where the court serves a document during the proceedings or another court act, it is recorded in the transcript of the proceedings or in the record of the other court act. The record states, in addition to the other elements, how the document was served. The record is signed by the body effecting the service and the recipient of the document.
In other cases, the proof of service of judicial documents is the acknowledgement of receipt, on which the body effecting the service indicates that the document has been served. It is the detachable part of the official envelope which is returned to the court once the document has been served and the data have been filled in. The data indicated on the acknowledgement of receipt are deemed to be true, unless the contrary is proven.
Service effected in any manner other than those stipulated by law is invalid and has no legally binding effects. For the possibilities of alternative service see answer 5.
The costs of the service of judicial documents are included in the costs of the proceedings. The parties, therefore, do not pay directly for the service of documents.
Please note that the above legal provisions governing the service of documents which form part of the Czech law will probably be amended substantially in 2008. Information on the amendments will be provided on this website.Top
Last update: 19-12-2008