Serving court documents

This factsheet contains information about serving court documents on the other party in cases in the Magistrates, District and Supreme Courts of Queensland.

The Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 1999 (UCPR) contain a number of prescribed forms. You can find templates of these forms on the Queensland Courts Website.

Serving court documents

Service means giving the other party a copy of the court documents.

Personal service

In the District and Supreme Courts, documents that start a court proceeding (a Claim or an Originating Application) should generally be personally served on the other party.

When serving documents personally, you should ask the defendant their name.

If they refuse to accept the documents, it is acceptable to leave the documents in their presence after telling the defendant what the documents are (rule 106(2) of UCPR)

Example: You have filed a Claim and Statement of Claim against Jim Jones in the Supreme Court. You know Jim’s home address and that he is at home until 10.00 am in the morning. So at 9.00 am, you knock on Jim’s front door with the originating process in your hand. Jim answers the front door, and even though you recognise him, you say:
“Are you Jim Jones?” to which Jim replies “Yes, I am.”
You can then hand Jim the originating process – service is complete!
Say you start to hand the originating process to Jim but he steps back and moves to close the front door – he knows what the documents are and wants to avoid being served. You can say,
“This is a claim brought against you in the Supreme Court.”
You can then simply leave the originating process on the ground (or somewhere reasonable) at Jim’s front door.

In the Magistrates Court you can serve the other party the documents by leaving them with an adult who appears to reside at that address (rule 111 and rule 112 UCPR).

If before any court proceeding, the parties to a court case have made a contract, then that contract may state how the parties are to serve each other in the event of any court proceedings (rule 119 UCPR)

Mortgages, leases and most commercial contracts will contain such a clause. In such a case, personal service may not be necessary if the contract is complied with.

You should note that if you serve documents after 4 pm, then the person served is deemed to have been served on the next day (rule 103 UCPR). You cannot serve a person on Christmas or Good Friday unless a court order permits you to (rule 101 UCPR)


A company can be served by posting the documents to the company’s registered office (section 109X Corporations Act 2001) or by leaving them at that address. To find the company’s registered office, you may need to do a search of ASIC’s company register (there is a fee for doing this search).

If an administrator or liquidator has been appointed, the company should be served by sending it to the administrator or liquidator.

Service of other documents

Parties to court proceedings notify the court of their “address for service” in a number of different ways:

  • When a plaintiff commences proceedings, the address for service will appear on the claim.
  • A defendant filing a Notice of Intention to Defend places their address for service in the Notice of Intention to Defend.
  • An originating application contains an applicant’s address for service
  • The respondent to an originating application by filing a notice of address for service
  • A party can also file a Change of Address for Service (form 90) or a Notice that Party is Acting in Person (form 92).

It is important that you keep your address for service up to date.

Once an address for service has been given, documents can be served by posting, emailing, faxing, or leaving those documents at the address for service.

When you are serving court documents you should serve a sealed copy. If you have finalised the document by its due date, but you have not yet had it sealed by the court, you should email or fax an unsealed (but signed and completed) copy of the document, and tell the other party that you will be filing that document in the court as soon as possible and that you will send them a sealed copy as soon as possible.

Substituted service

If you cannot find the other party then you may need to make an application to the court for an order for substituted service under rule 116 of the UCPR.

To obtain such an order, you need to convince the court that it is impracticable to serve the other party in accordance with the rules and that the way (or ways) you are proposing are likely to bring the case to the attention of the other party: Kendell v Sweeney [2002] QSC 404.

Typical orders might involve bringing the court documents to the other party’s attention by:

  1. Emailing them.
  2. Placing an advertisement of the proceedings in a newspaper where it might come to their attention.
  3. Leaving a copy of the court documents at the other party’s last known address or place of business.
  4. Serving the documents on the other party’s close family members.

Serving the documents on the other party’s close family members. Sometimes a search of either the electoral roll, the Land Titles Registry, telephone directories and social networking websites can be of assistance in locating a party.

In addition to making an order allowing substituted service, the court can also state when service on the other party will be deemed to have taken place. This can become important if you are serving a claim, and you might need to apply for default judgment.