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Service of documents means the delivery to a person (whether a physical or legal person) of court documents. The mode of service is specifically regulated by the Code of Organisation and Civil Procedure (Chap. 12 of the Laws of Malta).
All documents filed in court have to be formally served. These include judicial letters, judicial protests, applications, writ of summons, appeals, replies, precautionary and executive warrants, and other documents relating to a court case.
Upon filing of a document in court, it is the court which is responsible for serving documents. The party filing the claim has to file the document in court indicating the person on whom the document is to be served and the address of service. In case of more than one addressee, the party filing the document must ensure there are enough copies for all addressees.
Documents which do not form part of the record of a court case and judicial protests normally prepared prior to filing a claim are served by registered post whereby a ‘pink card’ showing either the signature of the receiver or that it is unclaimed would be attached to the original.
Other documents filed for the purpose of commencing or are filed in the course of a court case or court proceedings before the Court of Voluntary Jurisdiction are served through the Court bailiff or marshal by delivering the same document to the identified person to be served, at the address indicated by the party filing the document, or by leaving a copy at his place of work or at his residence.
Service carried out by post, which is returned as “unclaimed” is reissued. In cases where the person to be served with the documents has moved, or remains unclaimed, the document is returned to court.
All service of documents is carried out between and from Monday to Friday by Court bailiffs or marshals.
In cases where the documents are not served due to the addressee not being at home, one can indicate another address (eg: business address) where service will be carried out during the official service hours.
Should such person, notwithstanding the above procedure, not be served, the party filing the claim can file an application before the Court asking to dispense with legal hours, and in this case service may take place before or after . This can only be carried out after a court decree authorising such service is obtained.If the said latter procedure fails to achieve notification, then the party filing the claim can ask for notification via publication on the government gazette and one or more daily newspapers, as the court may direct. A copy of the claim and the documents are posting up at the address indicated and at the local council office of that same locality.
A certificate of service or non-service is issued.
The original documents served by registered post will have a ‘pink card’ attached to them. Once returned to Court, the original documents are stamped in either black ink or red ink. Black ink is used to indicate that service has taken place, indicating also to whom the document was delivered. If the document was not served, the stamp would be in red ink, and it would also bear the reason why it was not served.
All other documents are stamped either in black ink if service is in the affirmative or red ink if service is in the negative, and will bear the signature of the Court bailiff or marshal who was in charge of carrying out the service.
If the addressee does not receive the documents but the documents have been validly served by leaving a copy at the address, home or place of work of the addressee, service is deemed to be complete and valid, but the addressee may put forward the above as a justification to support his failure to meet legal time limits. Service effected in violation of the law can be impunged by court action. If in default of a valid service the party to be served files a reply in court or makes an appearance in court, the service is taken to have been valid.
There is a charge for service of documents which amounts to circa Lm16 if the Court Marshal delivers the documents by hand, and Lm3 if the documents are delivered by post.
Last update: 03-05-2006