New Manner Of Service? Substituted Service At Commercial Mail Receiving Agencies (CMRA)

Substituted Service

Recently enacted California legislation (effective 1/1/2018) adds a new manner of service permissible under California Code of Civil Procedure § 415.20(c), when serving an individual at a Commercial Mail Receiving Agency (CMRA.)  A CMRA  is a private company—such as The UPS Store (formally Mailboxes Etc.) or FedEx Kinkos—that provides mailbox rental services to individuals and companies.  CMRAs must register with the United States Postal Service to act an an agency to receive delivery of mail of others.

Language has been added to the Code of Civil Procedure to allow substituted service of a lawsuit of an individual defendant on the first and only attempt at a CMRA.  The Process Server Institute recently posted an informative article on this recent amendment.

As stated in the article,  service on an individual defendant generally requires multiple attempts to show due diligence before substituted service may be made. Under the amendment, when serving an individual with an CMRA address CMRA substituted service may be made without due diligence.  Under the new rules the CMRA must comply with another CA Code section –  Business & Professions §17538.5(d).  The author of the article feels, because of the burden of these requirements, the statute is flawed and will lead to confusion.

The rules for legal service can be difficult to understand for a professional.  Self-represented litigants can be overwhelmed when trying to understand the procedures that must be followed for service of process (initial steps for serving the complaint) and service of other documents involved in court cases.

Here are some guides to help you research procedures involved in service of legal papers

Service of Process (California Courts web page)

What Is Service?

 The law says that when you sue a person, partnership, corporation, or the government, you must give formal notice to the other side that you have started the legal process. In the same way, when you are already involved in a case and file papers with the court, you are required to give the other side notice of the paperwork you have filed. The legal way to give formal notice is to have the other side “served” with a copy of the paperwork that you have filed with the court.  This is called “service of process.”

“Service of process” means that the other side must get copies of any paper you file with the court.  In “service of process” a third person (NOT you) is the one who actually delivers the paperwork to the other side.  The person who does this is called the “server” or “process server.”

Until the other side has been properly “served,” the judge cannot make any permanent orders or judgments.

Titles available at ACLL

California Civil Procedure Before Trial / CEB Chapter 17,Service of Summons” & Chapter 18,Service of Papers.”  KFC 995 C35 2004 and OnLAW

The Registered Process Server’s Guide to Service of Process in California / Tony Klein.  KFC 1004 P75 K58 2008

Handling Service of Process (Serving Summons in Civil Proceedings) / Mark D. Lipton.  CEB Action Guide  KFC 1003 A36 2016 and OnLAW

International Service of Process /American Bar Association.  K 7637 I57

For a detailed discussion of the new amendment and its possible problems, read the full article at Process Server Institute’s site –

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