Code of Ethics
Standards of Professional Conduct
Every member of the association (formerly the California Association of Photocopiers and Process Servers) shall be familiar with and comply with the standards of professional conduct required of members of this Association. Every member shall subscribe to and circumscribe any and all of his activities according to the principles set forth in this Code of Ethics in dealing with clients, the public, and those of his associate members and associates in business as follows:
1. DUTIES TO CLIENTS
The best interest of a client may be served by maintaining a high standard of work and reporting to a client the full facts ascertained as a result of the work and effort expended whether they be advantageous or detrimental to the interest of the client; and that nothing be withheld from said client save the dictates of law. It should be borne in mind at all times that the duty of a process server or photocopier or attorney service should be within the bounds of the law, and do not permit, much less demand of him, any violation of the law or any manner of fraud that will effect the due process and name of this association.
2. DUTY TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC AND TO THE PROFESSION
The Association should guard against the acceptance to the profession of candidates unfit or unqualified to engage in such profession.
Above all, members should at all times maintain a high standard of conduct personally and professionally, respect this Association, its officers and members.
It shall be the primary duty of every member to take every available precaution to eliminate unethical or improper action, in the service of legal documents, and at all times protect the rights and interests of the client, and of the person being served with legal process.
Members should support the Association by attending meetings regularly, paying dues promptly, being available to work on committees and offering suggestions to the Board of Directors to better the Association.
3. CONFIDENCES OF A CLIENT
The duty to preserve his clients’ confidences outlasts the employment of the process server, photocopier or attorney service and extends, as well, to his employees.
The solicitation of business by misleading advertising is unprofessional and is prohibited by the professional standards and Code of Ethics of this Association.
5. SOLICITING NEW BUSINESS
The proper way to contact any prospective client is to approach the client with an outline of the services your firm offers, advise the client you would appreciate the opportunity to show him why you feel your firm has more to offer.
It is not ethical to cut the rates you normally and customarily charge when soliciting business from a member firm’s client, or to speak disparagingly of another member. Always use the positive approach. Point out the benefits the client would receive from using the services of your firm. Never discuss the bad points of your competitor. If you are advised that the prospective client is presently using the services of a member firm, take this opportunity to praise your associate, thank him for his time, and offer to be of assistance in the future.
It is not considered unethical to deviate from your normal and customary charges when submitting a solicited sealed bid to a governmental agency.
It is not unethical to solicit business from another member’s client as long as these guidelines are followed.
It is unethical to contact an employee of another member firm to offer him employment with your firm without first advising the member of your intent.
7. PERSONAL APPEARANCE AND BEHAVIOR
Members are expected to maintain a neat and clean appearance at all times and are responsible for the appearance of their employees and agents.
Members and their employees and agents must be courteous and polite in all their dealings.
Never attempt to decide the merits of a lawsuit. Never engage in any unnecessary discussions with the person(s) being served. It is only necessary to explain the general nature of the papers being served.
Never use profanity or vulgarity in your contact with others. Rudeness is inexcusable.
Handle all legal documents with care. Coffee stains, dirty fingerprints, and torn documents denote carelessness and wanton disregard for their importance.
8. NON-MEMBER FIRMS
Members are encouraged to associate with and use other member firms whenever possible and to encourage non-members to join.
It is proper when receiving work for the first time from a non-member firm to handle the assignments promptly. When returning the completed work to a non-member firm, advise him/her that you are a member of this association and have pledged yourself to working primarily with members of the Association. Be prepared to forward literature to him about the benefits of membership and encourage him to join and submit an application to him.
Merely returning a service to a non-member firm and refusing to handle it might cause their client serious problems and might turn him/her away from the Association. We can only encourage non-members to join with us by setting an example of proper conduct and professionalism.
All members are required to carry all insurance required by state law for employees and sub-contractors. It is unethical to require employees and independent contractors to supply you with a rider on their automobile insurance.
All member firms are required to have the necessary business licenses for the cities in which they maintain an office.
11. FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Prompt payment of all statements is mandatory.
Unless you have made other arrangements, all bills should be paid no later than the tenth of the month following presentation of the statement. Do not expect other firms to carry you on their books beyond the normal thirty (30) day period. Late payments can work financial hardship on other firms. Do not forget that credit is a courtesy and should never be abused.
No member firm shall be expected to handle services for any other member firm which is delinquent. Failure to handle services for a delinquent member shall not constitute a ground for filing grievances. Failure to pay any bill promptly shall constitute a ground for grievance and can subject the member firm to suspension and/or expulsion from the Association.
If you receive an invoice from a firm you rarely have occasion to use, pay the invoice upon receipt. Don’t wait for a statement. Billing is a costly procedure. Show member firms consideration and save them the expense of billing you for an insignificant amount of money.
If you wish to be paid on invoice and do not send a statement, you should clearly indicate this on your invoice so the recipient will know how they are expected to remit.
12. EXCHANGE WORK: RATES AND PRACTICES
Member firms are encouraged to exchange services and to enter into a fair agreement with each other as to the rates for such services. It is advisable to put such agreements in writing to avoid any misunderstanding. Reduced rates are a courtesy from one firm to another and are not mandatory.
If you receive a service from a member and know in advance that the services called for will result in an extraordinary charge, you should immediately advise the forwarding firm of this fact PRIOR to making the service. If you charge an exorbitant amount on a service, you place the other firm in jeopardy with his client.
When forwarding services to another firm, you should attach all court filing fees, witness fees and other charges which might be required. Do not expect other firms to advance costs on your behalf. If, because of extraordinary circumstances, firms have to advance costs on your behalf, show them the courtesy of repaying them immediately.
When it is necessary to send RUSH or SPECIAL services to another firm, show them the courtesy of an advance telephone call. Be considerate. Remember they might have to arrange their work schedules in order to assist you with this type of service. Do not expect reduced rates on RUSH or SPECIAL services.
NEVER QUOTE ANOTHER FIRM’S RATES TO YOUR CLIENT WITHOUT CONFIRMING WHAT THEIR CHARGES MIGHT BE.
Some members prefer referring their client directly to a member rather than handling the matter as a third party. Many fee disputes and misunderstandings can be avoided. You will divest yourself of all responsibility for the service. If, however, a member prefers to be a middle man and send a job to another member, all correspondence, telephone calls, and billings should go to the forwarding member only and never to their client unless the recipient is authorized or instructed to do so by the sending firm.
12a. PROOF OF SERVICE – OTHER RELATED FORMS
Proof of service fulfills function of establishing that procedures implementing constitutional requirements of due process were followed giving assurance that service really has been made, and thus when adequate proof of service is available, it is of no legal import that a party actually may not have received notice; that being the case, courts are very strict in applying statutory standards for proof of service; failure to strictly comply with those standards deprives the court of jurisdiction to act. Oats v. Oats, 148 Cal.App.3d 416 (1983) citing, U.S.C.A. Const. Amend. 14. -Black’s Law Dictionary
The proof of service is the evidence that a specific party and/or person has been properly served and is now under the jurisdiction of the court.
The accuracy of this proof is paramount. The California Evidence Code has given any proof of service executed by a California registered process server presumption of accuracy and places the burden of proof on the opposing party to produce evidence they were not properly served.
CA Evidence Code 647. The return of a process server registered pursuant to Chapter 16 (commencing with Section 22350) of Division 8 of the Business and Professions Code upon process or notice establishes a presumption, affecting the burden of producing evidence, of the facts stated in the return.
This places a high degree of responsibility on the CALSPro member or any process server registered under the B&P Code 22350, et seq, to insure that proofs of service are accurate and that all requirements of the court have been met. Proofs of service should only be executed after the registered process server has determined it accurately reflects his/her efforts and results. This would include any declaration of due diligence and declaration of mailing.
It is unethical for a person other than the actual server to sign a process server’s name to a proof of service, declaration or any other document under the penalty of perjury
If a proof of service or any other related form requires to be notarized a notary should NEVER notarize anyone’s signature unless the proof of service is signed in his/her presence. Furthermore, it is also a misdemeanor for a person (process server or process serving company) to induce (solicit, coerce, or influence) a notary to execute a false certificate or other writing.
All electronic signatures must be personally affixed, applied or signed to the proof of service or other documents by the actual server that made the service and only after they have approved of the manner and facts of the service in the proof of service or declaration. Electronic signatures must be only used in courts where law or court rules allow them.
When forwarding documents for services to other firms, the sending party should enclose any proofs of service or other forms for the server to complete and sign; including declarations re: diligence, non-military affidavits and not-found returns. The person serving should always sign the forms provided by the sending party rather than their own forms, and should return all papers and instructions back to the sender.
Many firms do not prepare not-found returns or non-military declarations unless requested, so the sender should always specify what he/she wants or needs back in addition to the proof of service.
When returning a completed or uncompleted service be sure to supply all pertinent information as to the date, time and place of service, the name of the person served, and, when required for substituted service, the exact dates and times of attempted service.
NEVER price a proof of service for other member firms. It is possible they have costs to include for services they have rendered in connection with the matter.
ALL RETURNS OF SERVICE SHOULD BE MADE PROMPTLY. In most instances, you should be prepared to return all documents, proofs of service and/or reports within 48 hours after service has been completed. Any undue delay could cause the referring firm unnecessary concern, and in some instances, might create a hardship.
Most exchange work is handled by United States mail, which, at best, can leave a lot to be desired. You should always handle exchange work expeditiously.
12b. NOT FOUND RETURNS
If you expect your associate to skip trace in the event of a bad address, advise him/her of this fact. Be sure to discuss rates for skip tracing. It is not unethical to charge for a bad address. Just going to a bad address and giving a not-found return is not enough. Members are expected to check telephone books, call the information operator for a possible new listing. In some cases, requesting an address correction form from the Post Office would be in order. However, if you are going to charge for these services, advise what the charge will be in advance. Do not expect another firm to skip trace for nothing. Do not expect a not-found return unless requested.
12c. COMMUNICATION WITH OTHER FIRMS’ CLIENTS
The sending firm should never ask you to deal directly with his/her client and it would be unethical for you to contact the client directly to discuss any service you are handling for any other firm.
All communication MUST be with the sending firm. This will avoid any misunderstanding.
Always make your return of service and your billing to the referring firm and never to his client.
12d. STATUS – PROGRESS REPORTS
Under normal circumstances, you should keep your client informed as to the progress you are making on every service. Be prepared to give progress reports when requested. Locally, this presents no problem since a telephone call would suffice.
When your client is in another county or state, a report every week to ten days should be sufficient.
If you are having trouble on a paper, you should notify the sender at once.
It is unethical to threaten to sue this association or any member of the association over the performance of duties by them on behalf of the association. It is not unethical to sue this association or any member of the association.
Amended October 13, 1991
Amended January 1, 2008 (name change only)
Amended October 10, 2009
Amended March 24, 2012 (Section 2)