Due diligence consists of the reasonable steps taken by a person to satisfy a legal requirement. In protecting due process rights, process servers are essential. The due diligence exercised by process servers show the judge and court that sufficient measures were taken to execute personal service prior to the approval of alternate service. The comprehensive due diligence required for alternate service to be approved confirms the importance of service of process.
Personal service is the best approach to service of process. Service by mail or publication cannot be pursued without first fulfilling due diligence requirements through proper attempts and research for personal service. Electronic service is relatively new and is only pursued when all other methods of personal and secondary service have been exhausted. Due process rights are protected in this way by ensuring that giving notice to the correct person has been attempted with thorough research and adequate effort before moving on to another method. Nothing beats personal service.
The requirements for due diligence are not set in stone. There are, however, practical and effective means of locating an individual for personal service. Examples of these would be conducting a DMV search to locate a new address, contacting the Post Office for a possible forwarding address, or even hiring a private investigator. Due diligence will need to be intensive in situations that could result in a significant loss, such as a foreclosure in which the bank may regain ownership of a property.
It is not always easy to determine what a judge will deem as appropriate due diligence before approving alternate service. The bare minimum should be attempted service at the last known address, an inquiry at a post office, and a locate performed by a process server or a skip trace performed by a private investigator. When hiring a New Jersey process server you should expect assistance with recommended steps to take if an individual or business has no address or is otherwise difficult to locate.