Completing a Certificate of Service

The Certificate of Service form most frequently used in cases subject to the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) can be found here  

Case Details
In the top right hand corner of form N215 there are boxes to be filled in with the name of the court, the case number, and the names of the parties.

What documents did you serve?
List in the box the names of the documents served, such as Claim Form, Particulars of Claim, etc. Many court forms have a form number at the bottom left of the page and if you served a number of forms together and you are short of space in the box you can use the form number to identify a form rather than its name - e.g. a Notes for Defendant form is form number N1C.

On whom did you serve?
Give the full name of the party you served the documents on.

If the party you served is an organisation normally you would give here just the full name of the organisation - e.g. Jones and Co Ltd  not the name of the person within the organisation you have been dealing with. However if, instead of posting the documents to the organisation or to their solicitor (or e.g. hand delivering them through a letterbox) you actually handed the documents to a partner or other person in a senior position in the organisation, you should write their name and position as well - e.g. Phillip Jones, Managing Director of Jones and Co Ltd.  


Date of Service
In the top left there are two dates On what day did you serve? and The date of service is This is because (as explained in notes on the second page) there is a delay between when you, for example, put a document in the post, and when the document is counted as being served. See here for some examples of when a document is deemed served


How did you serve the documents?
Tick the box to indicate how you served the documents and complete the address box to the right with the address where service was effected. 

If you tick the box which says by first class post or other service which provides for delivery on the next business day make sure that you enter the name and address in the address box on the right exactly as it is on the envelope when you post it.

If you tick the box which says by delivering to or leaving at a permitted place make sure that you enter, in the address box on the right, the exact address of the place where you hand delivered the documents .

Sometimes the purpose of the tick-box which says by personally handing it to or leaving it with... is misunderstoodThis tick-box is only to be used if you actually handed the documents to the party themselves. This is called "personal service" and you fill in the time you handed over the documents, and, in the larger box below the tick-box, the name of the actual person you handed the documents to, and, in the address box on the right, the place where you were when you handed over the documents. It is called "personal service" not because you personally are doing it (you could, and normally would, get a process server to carry out personal service for you) but because the party being served is actually standing in front of you in person when you hand the documents over. If it is an organisation (such as a limited company or a partnership) which is a party in the case and you are serving documents on that organisation then it is "personal service" only if the person you hand the documents to is a partner or a person in a senior position in the organisation. If the person you are serving refuses to put out their hand and take the documents from you, you can simply leave the documents with them - e.g. put them on a table in front of them or, if necessary, put them on the floor in front of them - but you are leaving the documents in their presence. This is what is meant when the tick-box says personally... leaving it with... If you put the documents through a letter box, that does not count as personally handing it to or leaving it with... but as delivering to or leaving at a permitted place. If you are serving documents by hand delivery to an office block then you might, instead of putting the documents through the letter box, go through the door and hand the documents to the person manning the reception, but that still counts as delivering to or leaving at a permitted place. The person behind the reception desk who you are handing the documents to is not the party themselves so (except in the unlikely event that the person manning reception is actually, say, the managing director of the organisation which is a party in the case) it is not "personal service". You do not enter, on the Certificate of Service, the name of the person behind the reception desk who you handed the documents to (but it does no harm to get a separate receipt signed by the person manning reception and keep it in case there is any query later).

If you sent the documents by email, tick the box which says by other electronic means, fill in the time you sent the email, put the word Email in the larger box below, and enter the email address which you sent the documents to in the address box on the right.   

Being the... 
Normally once legal proceedings have started, a party will be required to specify - to the other parties and to the court - the address at which they can be served with documents (which can be their own address or, if they are represented in the litigation by solicitors, will be the address of their solicitors) and in this case you would just tick the other tick-box at the bottom and write address for service given by the party in the larger box immediately below that tick-box. But when serving a document on a defendant which actually starts off the litigation process (e.g. Claim Form) there are certain valid places for service, depending on the circumstances, specified in the rules, such as the defendant's usual residence, or the defendant's solicitors place of business if the solicitors have instructions to accept service, so you tick the appropriate boxes to indicate which rule you are relying on.

I believe that the facts stated in this certificate are true
The certificate of service should be signed by the person who served the document because it is that person - e.g. the person who put the envelope in the Royal Mail post box (or sent the email, or put the envelope through a house or office letterbox, or personally gave it to a named person, etc.) who knows that the details are true. Normally the person doing the serving, and therefore signing, will be the Claimant or the Defendant so the inappropriate words in brackets underneath the signature should be deleted leaving the appropriate word (Claimant), (Defendant), etc., but, particularly if the documents are being hand-delivered, the Claimant or Defendant might have arranged for someone else, whether a professional process server or a friend, to serve the documents on their behalf, in which case the description of the person signing should be stated. If a professional process server was engaged then write e.g. process server engaged by the Claimant. If a friend then write Claimant's Agent.   

Note: the information above is purely concerned with how to fill in the Certificate of Service form to accurately describe what you have done. Whether what has been done is sufficient to constitute valid service under the rules, in a particular case, is a different question - for example email service may only be valid in certain circumstances.   


This information page is designed to be used only by clients of John Antell who have entered into an agreement for the provision of legal services. The information in it is necessarily of a general nature and is intended to be used only in conjunction with specific advice to the individual client about the individual case. This information page should not be used by, or relied on, by anyone else. 

This page was lasted updated in May 2017          Disclaimer