Hawaii HB766 To Review Allowing Service of Process By Electronic Mail in Civil and Administrative Proceedings Defeated

Hawaii HB766, sponsored by seven house representatives, would have established a task force within the judiciary to review allowing service of notice and process by electronic mail in civil and administrative proceedings. 

Under HB766, the task force would have reviewed the procedure for service of process in district, circuit and family courts. Critics of the bill cited the issues arising with electronic service stem not from the validity as a method of alternate service when original service could not be effectuated, but from its use as a primary method of service. Under due process rights, individuals should be notified of any legal proceedings so they can take action accordingly. To protect these rights, personal service is, and should continue to be, the golden standard and requirement for initial service in any matter. 

There are situations where alternate service is necessary, including when the individual is evading or an extensive location search has failed to turn up any alternate address. Under these circumstances, electronic service of process could be considered as an option for completing service and ensuring the individual sees the notification and documents. Certain methods of alternate service, such as publication, rely on antiquated methods from a time when individuals were likely to read the newspaper. In today’s digital world, there is a greater likelihood of someone seeing the notification through electronic means meant to arrive in front of them. 

The task force in the bill would have been responsible for the following:

 SECTION 1.  The purpose of this Act is to convene a task force within the judiciary to review amending the procedure for the giving of notice or service of legal process in civil and administrative proceedings by allowing documents to be served upon parties by electronic mail.

SECTION 2.  (a) There is established within the judiciary, for administrative purposes, a temporary task force that shall discuss, review, and seek input on amending the procedure for the giving of notice or service of legal process in civil proceedings in the district, circuit, and family courts and in administrative proceedings by allowing documents to be served upon parties by electronic mail.

Given the opposition to the bill and concerns surrounding electronic service of process as a replacement for personal service, the bill was deferred indefinitely, protecting the due process rights of Hawaiian citizens. 

Read the full text of the bill: Hawaii HB766

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