Service by Notice and Acknowledgement of Receipt (Code Civ. Proc. § 415.30) is the recommended method of serving a summons on a known-to-be represented party or an unrepresented party who you believe to be amenable to such service. This then alleviates the need to track down the party and engage in extensive and expensive efforts to effectuate personal service – which can be costly. Furthermore, it may provide the serving party the ability to recover expenses if the party to be served then thereafter does not cooperate.
This type of service is effective by:

  1. Contacting the party’s representative (or unrepresented party) and receiving confirmation that they are amenable to receiving service on behalf of the party;
  2. Mailing a copy of the summons and complaint, two copies of a notice and acknowledgement of receipt, and a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the person to be served; and
  3. Having the person to be served complete, sign, and return one of the notice and acknowledgements of receipt.

Judicial Council Form POS-015 is required to be used as the Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt whenever applicable (see Rules of Court § 1.31) and meet the requirements. Service is considered complete on the date of signing. Thus, any deadline associated with the service (e.g. 30 days to file a responsive pleading, etc.), begins to run on the date of signing. Furthermore, the deadline extension provided by Code of Civil Procedure section 1013 do not apply to any computation of the time period.
Upon receipt, the individual has 20 days to complete, sign, and return the notice and acknowledgement. If they fail to do so, the serving-party must resort to other means to effectuate service (e.g. personal, substitute, by publication, etc.). In so doing, however, the serving-party then becomes entitled to recover costs. This is recoverable on a motion, with or without notice, and regardless of the merits or recovery of costs of the underlying action.
Thus, service by notice and acknowledgement is an effective way to shift the burden of costs for service to the other party.
Please note that the execution and return of an acknowledgment of receipt simply acknowledges receipt of the documents. It should not be viewed as an acknowledgment that service has been properly made or as constituting a general appearance. And by executing and returning the acknowledgment of receipt, a party does not consent to the court’s personal jurisdiction over him or her, or the person upon whom they are accepting service.