Recently in Maryland Senate Bill 554 was proposed, which would include government regulated licensing and bonding. Let’s take a look at the costs involved, and why this bill should be rejected, although it may not be for the reasons that jump immediately to mind.
The costs for such a bill would certainly be exorbitant. While the licensing fees are not extreme at $200 for individuals and $375 for firms (along with charges for records checks), the bonding costs come in at a much higher expense. At $15,000 for individuals and $1,000,000 for firms, it is likely such high fees could push some smaller companies out of business. And what need would this fill? Process servers don’t carry money – we trade in papers. Ultimately this bonding only opens the doors for individuals to have one more person to sue and collect from.
Insurance is another story. Should process servers have insurance? Absolutely. In our industry it is important to have some level of protection but bonding doesn’t seem to be the best solution.
Breaking down the licensing portion of this bill, while licensing would help to reduce instances of sewer service by ensuring proper steps are taken to evaluate each process server, this sole benefit does not outweigh the negatives. Many in our industry would agree that certification and training are necessary especially given the less than positive media attention surrounding process servers these days. Yet licensing means government regulation and taxpayer dollars, along with a lack of much needed training.
The licensing program does not include any type of training and instead relies merely on a background check. Because someone does not have a criminal record does not imply that they are familiar with the court rules and can effectuate service in a proper manner. Yet even if the proposed legislation were to include training it still would have a glaring issue: the cost to the taxpayers.
The cost associated with process serving can be high and many government entities are looking to outsource process serving. Within New Jersey, where sheriffs handle process service as well, Camden County has already outsourced their process service to private parties and eliminated their process service department after finding that the cost to serve was well outside what they were recouping in payment. This trend will no doubt continue as individual counties stumble upon the same realization. Between the pay rate per hour of sheriffs along with their benefits and travel costs, there is no doubt that the low charge does not cover all of the costs incurred.
The issue with government licensing falls largely on taxpayers being required to pay for licensing of an industry which handles civil suits and service. Associations would certainly be able to handle the running of any type of certification program. Even if the government were to approve these programs first, the costs would be extraordinarily minimal in comparison to having to run an entire licensing project. Once certified by a state association, the government could maintain a registry of these certified process servers.
DGR has sent in a letter in opposition to this bill. While taking action to eliminate those without any proper education of the civil court rules should be an appropriate action to be undertaken by every state, to have the government implement licensing at the expense of taxpayers and requiring unnecessary high amounts of bonding while not involving any training seems to be the opposite of what the industry needs.
Tell us what you think about this bill and where process service training and certification should be headed in the future.