Why Maryland’s New Bill Makes No Sense

By February 22, 2013 5 Comments

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.

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Jeff Foreman says:

    I’ve been serving PS in MD for 28 years; am on the Board of Directors of MAAPS(Mid-Atlantic Assn of PPS), and sit as education chair. MAAPPS has in place an education program, and supports registration of servers, which would address those issues of the proponents of the bill.

  • We have laws concerning perjury, should be enforced to punish the rogue process servers, rogue agencies, and most of all rogue attorneys and law firms that hire such individuals. For each disreputable process server the are at least ten disreputable( mostly collection ) lawyers willing to do business with them

  • Gordon says:

    “Yet even if the proposed legislation were to include training it still would have a glaring issue: the cost to the taxpayers.”…Really? How so? You make a blanket statement but show no proof or evidence from which this alleged additional tax burden would derive. Its a division of an already existing agency that would be ultimately funded by its licensees. I fail to see how other than the initial tax burden of supporting the bill and getting the program up and running, that this licensing would continue to be a tax burden. If you are going to shoot down something as important and necessary as statewide licensing, it seems impetuous to chastise the licensing agency as an ultimate tax burden when there is no supporting evidence. Sorry, but coming from a state which currently has only intermittent licensing from county to county, I can tell you the benefits of statewide licensing far outweigh the negatives. Other state associations would agree.

  • Amanda Sexton says:

    Jeff: We certainly support registration of servers and did not mean to imply otherwise. NJPPSA actually has a bill on the table to enact this. The issue more at hand was that there was registration with very little requirements. It would be even more beneficial to the industry if the MAAPPS education program were required prior to registration.

    Gordon: Ultimately the burden of cost to run this licensing program would be taken on by taxpayers, although of course it would be offset by the fees paid by process servers, as would any government run program. Again, we 100% support licensing in every way but believe those being licensed should be properly educated on the process server rules and laws as well.

  • Tom Sawyer says:

    It is my opinion that this industry requires no regulation. What are the problems that have brought this to the spotlight. I don’t know of any. I know there are servers that just shove them in the mailbox and falsify the return. They get caught and charged. This is simply a money grad by Maryland and others who Will profit by a decrease in competition. I myself will be one of those who profit and I oppose this legislation even though I see a 3x increase. Well I am an eastern shore rightwing less gov. nut.

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