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Utah Rules of Civil Procedure 4 - Process & Summons

Rule 4 of the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure governs the service of process in Utah civil cases.  Rule 4 establishes procedures controlling who may sign a summons, the time of service of a summons, the contents of the summons, the method of service, proof of service, and waiver of service.

Utha Rules Civil Procedure Rule 4 - Process & Summons Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 4(a) - Signing of Summons

Rule 4 establishes that a summons in a Utah civil case may be signed and issued by either the plaintiff or the plaintiff's attorney.

Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 4(b) - Time of Service

When a Utah civil case is commenced by filing the complaint with the court, the summons must be served on the defendant no later than 120 days after the filing of the complaint, unless the court allows a longer period of time.  Good cause must be shown to be granted a longer period of time.  Failure to serve the summons within the required time period will result in the complain being dismissed without prejudice.  A copy of the complaint must be served on the defendant at the same time the summons is served.  (Rule 3 of the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure also allows a plaintiff to commence a civil case in Utah by serving a summons and complaint on the defendant before the case is filed with the court.  Under Rule 3, the complaint and proof of service must then be filed with the court within 10 days after service.)

If a Utah civil case is filed against multiple defendants, a plaintiff may proceed against those defendants who have been served.  Other defendants may then be served or may appear at any time prior to trial.

Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 4(c) - Contents of Summons

Rule 4(C) sets forth specific requirements for the content of the summons.  The contents of the summons are intended to put the defendant in a Utah civil case on notice as to where the action is commenced, the identity of the plaintiff or other parties, and the identity of the plaintiff's attorney (if any).  The summons must also state the length of time a defendant has in which to answer the complaint.

If the case has been commenced by filing the complaint with the court, the summons must also notify the defendant that failure to answer the complaint in writing may result in a default judgment being entered against the defendant.  If the action is commenced under Rule 3(a)(2) (allowing a Utah civil action to be commenced before it is filed with the court), the summons must state that an answer is not required unless the complaint is filed with the court within 10 days after service of the summons and complaint on the defendant.

Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 4(d) - Method of Service

Rule 4(d) provides specific rules for how the summons and complaint in a Utah civil case must be filed.  The most common methods of service under the rule are personal service upon the defendant and service by mail or commercial courier service.  The rule also sets forth the methods required for service on a defendant who is in a foreign country.

In cases where a defendant cannot be located through reasonable diligence, a court may allow service to be made by publication.  Permission from the court must be obtained before service by publication will be allowed.  Service by publication must be made by in a newspaper "of general circulation" in the the county where publication is required, and must be published in the English language.

Although Rule 4(d) allows for a number of different methods of serving process upon an opposing party, the rules are fairly complex.  Failure to comply with the rules governing method of service may result in

Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 4(e) - Proof of Service

Unless service is waived (under Rule 4(f)), proof of service must be filed with the court.  Among other requirements of the rule, proof of service must state the date, place, and manner of service.  Although the rule requires proof of service to be filed, the rule specifically states that failure to file proof of service "does not affect the validity of the service."

Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 4(f) - Waiver of Service

The rules allow a plaintiff in a Utah civil case to request that a defendant to waive formal service of a summons.  Waiving formal service of the summons does not constitute a waiver of any objections to venue of the action or any objections to jurisdiction of the court over the defendant.  All such objections are preserved.

Waiving formal service gives a defendant the benefit of additional time in which to answer the complaint.  In most Utah civil cases, a defendant has 20 days from the date the summons is formally served in which to file an answer to the complaint.  By waiving formal service, a defendant will normally have 45 days in which to answer the complaint.

Refusal to waive formal service of the summons may make the defendant responsible for all costs incurred by the plaintiff in effecting formal service on that defendant.

Utah Civil Litigation Attorneys

Pursuing or defending against a lawsuit in the Utah court system can be complex.  This page is not intended to provide a complete or exhaustive explanation of the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure.  If you are involved in civil litigation in Utah, either as a plaintiff or as a defendant, it is strongly recommended that you consult with an attorney regarding your case.  Our Utah attorneys work hard to help our clients achieve the best possible outcome for their cases, in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Contact Stephen Howard now to schedule an initial consultation.

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Stephen W. Howard is Utah attorney, practicing as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC.
With offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties, we are pleased to provide legal services to clients throughout Utah.
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