“Notice” is an important legal term; it refers to whether a party is aware of legal proceedings that could affect her legal rights and generally affords that party a chance to be heard. For example, when a lawsuit is filed, the defendant must be served with notice of the proceedings. If the defendant cannot be found, an affidavit of due diligence must state the efforts made to contact the party and notify him of the legal proceedings.

Due Diligence

Due diligence refers to the efforts taken to gather sufficient, objective and reliable information relating to a legal claim or transaction, according to the USLegal website. For example, due diligence in a divorce case may mean gathering information about the spouse’s assets, bank accounts and debts. With regard to an affidavit of due diligence, the term refers to the efforts made by the process server to locate and deliver legal papers to an individual.

Court procedural rules dictate the proper form a legal document must take and the proper way it must be delivered to a party. The rules vary by state. In general, the legal documents cannot be hand-delivered by a party in the lawsuit to another party; an independent agent, such as the court or a professional process server, must deliver the documents. According to The Free Dictionary website, there are three basic methods of service: actual service (delivering the legal documents to the actual person); substituted service (leaving the documents with an agent or representative); and service by publication (publishing notice of the proceedings in a newspaper of regular circulation).

Affidavit of Due Diligence

An affidavit is a sworn statement; a person can be found guilty of perjury if she submits a false statement in an affidavit. According to USLegal, an affidavit of due diligence is often submitted by a process server stating the efforts she made to find and deliver legal documents to one of the parties. Due diligence in process serving generally means that the process server tried to locate an individual by accessing information at the post office; department of motor vehicles; utility companies; the defendant’s current and former employers; and through the defendant’s friends and family.

Other Issues

Affidavits of due diligence are not appropriate in every situation, and the exact form may vary by state. Service of process is a critical component to legal proceedings, and failing to find or locate a defendant could have severe legal and financial implications on the parties involved. Before using or submitting an affidavit of due diligence, speak to an attorney for legal advice.