Legal Literacy

Legal Literacy


After a writ of summons is filed and the appropriate fees paid, it must be served personally on the defendant(s).

However, there are times where personal service is not practicable.

Where for any cause it is not possible or convenient to effect personal service of a writ promptly , the court may order substituted service by delivery of the process to some adult inmate at the usual or last known place of abode or business of the person to be served; or by delivering the process to the agent or person through whom the process would most likely come to the notice of the party; or by advertisement in a gazette or a newspaper circulating in the Region in which the action is instituted; or at the last known place of abode or business of the party to be served; of in the case of the defendant , by prepaid registered letter to the address provided by the plaintiff in the application for substituted service.

Substituted service is as effective as personal service. However, substituted service will not be ordered of an expired writ.

Substituted service of a writ of summons may be ordered only where the defendant could otherwise have been served personally. Thus, personal service may be ordered where the defendant was in Ghana at the institution of the action and could have been served personally. However , where it is established that the defendant left the jurisdiction at the time of issue of the writ in order to evade service, substituted service may be ordered.

The applicant must establish that service is impracticable. The order will then be made and varied from time to time.

An application for substituted service where it is alleged that the defendant is evading service, must establish unsuccessful attempts at personal service thus:

  • Calls must be made,
  • The calls should be made at the defendant’s residence, permanent, or temporary if known. If the claim relates to the defendant’s business address, at such business address. The fact that the defendant has left the address in the writ should be disclosed in the affidavit.
  • The calls should be made at reasonable hours on weekdays.
  • The calls should be made on a separate day.

Where the defendant cannot be reached for service, the application may be made without prior attempt. For instance, a defendant in a running down action, whose address is unknown may be served by substituted service through the postal address if inscribed on the vehicle. Upon the grant of the application, the order for substituted service and the initiating process must be served in the manner specified in the order and the proof of service place on the court file. Where the order directs service by advertisement the applicant must procure such advertisement in proof of compliance.

Once substituted service is effected as ordered, the party will be presumed to have been duly served.