Recently, director and actor Olivia Wilde was handed an envelope while on stage when she was attending a trade show in the United States of America. As it turned out, the envelope apparently contained Court documents from her ex-partner regarding a parenting matter. What is going on here, and why would someone be handed paperwork in such a public way?
When people start Court cases, you need to ‘serve’ or give the other people involved copies of the documents so that they are able to respond. Depending on the type of application, ‘personal’ service may be required – that is, the person involved actually has to be handed a copy of the documents.
If you have lawyers already, in many cases they can accept service on your behalf, so you are not faced with a situation where somebody hands you a document in public or at your house. Even if you are not being served through your lawyers, most people serving documents (called process servers) will attempt to contact you to arrange a time to meet to hand over the paperwork at a convenient place and time. However when somebody is not responding, or is ‘avoiding’ service, process servers may take more imaginative steps to track down the person being served. If the person is in the public eye, the only place that a process server may be able to locate them is at a publicly-advertised function. Most process servers do not jump to such extraordinary methods in the first case, but there are always exceptions to the rule and some bad characters may act prematurely.
All this is to say we do not know Ms Wilde had documents handed to her on stage – but the answer is not as straightforward as it might first seem.