A process agent is the representative of a company or third party, who is contracted to receive legal papers on behalf of his contractor in the event court or arbitration proceedings are initiated.
If an individual or firm engages in a transaction that is subject to English law but who does not have a physical address or presence in England, serving court papers can be a difficult and lengthy procedure. For this reason it is standard business practice (and often a requirement) that an agent for the service of process is appointed to companies or parties without physical representation in England or Wales during business dealings.
Why Appoint a Process Agent?
The rules in England and Wales regarding the service of proceeding are very strict and sometimes hard to comply with. The process is made even more complicated if one of the parties is located overseas; so the main benefit of having a process agent is his appointment removes the necessity for court papers to be served to an international party abroad.
When you sign up a process agent, other companies will be more likely to want to do business with you as they can be confident that if they need to engage in legal proceedings, the court served papers will be accepted by a representative in the UK. For example, if a German company were to apply for a loan that was subject to conditions set in England, the lender will likely require that a process agent is appointed to receive documents on behalf of the borrower, should he default on repayments or violate other terms of the loan.
In today’s markets, where many business transactions take place cross-borders, the role of a process agent is very important. Assigning a professional process agent during a transaction gives all interested parties peace of mind that in the event legal proceedings are required, they can commence in a swift and correct manner.
Who can Act as a Process Agent?
While just about any individual with an address in England or Wales may take on the role of process agent legally, when appointing an agent for the service of process you are advised to appoint a professional who is familiar with relevant types of legal proceedings and who will treat your case as a matter of urgency.
Before appointing a process agent you should find out if he will be available to you in your time zone (which may vary considerably from business hours in the UK) and if he has the legal know-how to take care of the execution of sometimes complicated contracts in a timely fashion.
You must be able to trust your agent to receive service of process while maintaining the content and terms of any business agreements you have undertaken confidential.
Please note: This article is presented for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for legal advice.