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Investigators at MKD go the 'extra mile' for lawyers

By AdvocateDaily.com Staff

Lawyers having difficulty serving parties in civil matters often need experienced investigators to do the job, says Jim Downs, founding partner and managing director of MKD International Inc.

MKD, a full-service private investigation company, frequently gets called by law firms having trouble serving people with subpoenas, court orders, or statements of claim in civil proceedings, he says.

“We try to go the extra mile to ensure that we get the right person,” Downs tells AdvocateDaily.com.

Lawyers sometimes begin by using less expensive process server companies, he says. But process servers often just go through the motions.

“They’ll knock on the door of the reported address. If there’s no answer, they’ll just leave,” says Downs. “It’s not their job to make an extra effort to try to locate the individual.”

That’s why lawyers, including firms in the United States, frequently turn to MKD’s team of former police officers to complete the task and serve documents to Canadians, he says.

“We will spend time and potentially conduct surveillance because some of these people try to avoid service and can be troublesome for firms who want to serve them their due notice,” he says.

Lawyers often provide MKD with a photograph, description, date of birth, and fairly accurate information about the person’s whereabouts, Downs says. But occasionally they haven’t a clue where the party is and call on the PI firm’s years of experience as skip tracers to find them, he says.

“In most cases, we are very successful,” he notes.

In particularly difficult cases, MKD uses two or three investigators to track down the individual’s residence or place of business, put them under surveillance, and get them in a position where they can’t avoid service, he says.

It’s good practice to approach people in outdoor, public places where it’s difficult to lie low, he says.

Once MKD’s investigators know the person is inside a building, they usually don’t knock on the door but wait for them to come outside, perhaps to get into their car, Downs says. “Then we’ll approach them where they have no way to hide, and serve them.”

Sometimes, investigators follow the target for some distance, approaching them as they leave their vehicle in a parking lot, walk down a street, or enter a business, he says.

The key is to get the person to acknowledge their identity, Downs adds.

“The whole idea is they have nowhere to hide. They have to accept service if we just give it to them,” he says. “Whether they throw it away doesn't really matter.”

MKD will then file an affidavit of service attesting that the person was given the document, he says.

It’s rare for opposing lawyers to challenge these affidavits once they see the CVs of MKD’s investigators, who come from years of experience in law enforcement, he says.

Sometimes individuals will walk away to avoid being served, he says. In those cases, MKD may stick the document on their car’s windshield and photograph or videotape the result so there's no denying it was received, Downs says.

“We’ve seen them where they just take the paper and throw it down on the ground. Sometimes we even capture that on video,” he says.

Serving potential witnesses with subpoenas to appear in court can be especially challenging because many don’t want to testify, Downs says.

MKD sometimes tries to find out what they know first. Instead of immediately serving them with a summons, investigators attempt to get them to give a statement so the lawyer can determine what to do with their evidence, says Downs.

“They'll evaluate what the individual has to say and then they'll determine whether or not they want to call that individual as a witness,” Downs says.

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