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Usually legal action against a person or business involves serving them with registered mail. What exactly is considered an acceptable address of service? I understand that if a legal proceeding has already started and if the person or business moves to a new address without updating their information with the court/plaintiff, their old address is still considered their address of service (in short, they don't escape by not providing a new address). Also, it's not illegal for someone to lie.

For example, if Joe tells Bob he will pay him $500 for some work. Joe tells Bob his address but lies about it. If Bob does the work and Joe doesn't pay him, can Joe fill in court against Bob using the provide (false) address and the court would still consider Joe to have been served?

Basically I'm asking, does a party need to be reasonably certain an address for a defendant is in fact their address and not just a lie?

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  • In some US jurisdictions service to a party's last known address is sufficient if reasonable attempts have not found the party's current address. Some kinds of business are, I understand, required to publish an address for service, and service to that address suffices. And in some cases service "by publication" (printing a legal ad in a newspaper of wide circulation) is sufficient if other methods have failed. In any of these cases, if the court accepts the "alternate service" and the party fails to respond, a default judgement may be issued. I don't know if any of that ever applies in Canada. Nov 13, 2021 at 23:16

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Basically I'm asking, does a party need to be reasonably certain an address for a defendant is in fact their address and not just a lie?

It doesn't really matter to the Court. You as an applicant must effectively serve the document for your case to proceed. Sending a mail to a non-existent or fake address is against your interest.

Different provinces may have slightly or significantly different rules. But usually sending a registered mail alone does not suffice (even when personal service is not required). You need to have a confirmation of delivery, preferably or sometimes imperatively with a signature of the respondent or someone in their household. If you send a mail to a fake address, it would be returned or signed by an unrelated person.

In that case, you must make a reasonable effort to ascertain where the respondent can be effectively served. If no valid mailing address can be obtained but you know where the respondent is or how to find them, or when personal service is required, you may also be able to, within the rules of the court in question, serve the respondent using a professional process server, or in some cases you could request the help of a bailiff or peace officer, or in some cases any non-professional capable adult may be permitted to serve a document and swear an affidavit of service.

Usually as a last resort, a judge may permit a substituted service or alternative method of service, e.g. serving the documents to a known associate (friends, family, employer).

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