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Message From the Courts: Illinois Supreme Court Reinforces Service of Process Allowable via Social Media, Text and Email

Red Handle Rubber Stamper and You've Been Served text isolated o

For several years now, people across all aspects of society have been relying more and more on electronic methods to communicate with one another, both personally and professionally. Attorneys and the courts are not exempt from this advancement, and many judicial systems have taken steps to keep up with the times. Illinois courts have been particularly proactive in revising their rules to allow for modern technology when it comes to communicating with the courts and complying with court rules. Below we take a look at the recent amendments to Supreme Court Rule 102 regarding the electronic service of summons and complaints. For help with civil litigation in Chicagoland, contact MacDonald, Lee & Senechalle, Ltd. , at their offices in Des Plaines and Hoffman Estates.

What Is Supreme Court Rule 102?

For parties to litigation in Illinois and their attorneys, every aspect of their case or judicial proceeding is governed by Rules promulgated by the Illinois Supreme Court. Supreme Court Rule 102 deals with service of summons and complaints in civil proceedings. Subsection (f) of the rule memorializes a long-standing practice in Illinois under the Code of Civil Procedure allowing a summons to be served via e-mail, text, or direct message (DM). Even today, while such electronic methods are still not the preferred means of service, they continue to be allowed by special order of the court when more traditional means of service are not practical.

What Is Service?

Service of process refers to the means by which one party notifies another party that legal action has been initiated. When filing a lawsuit, the plaintiff is required to serve a copy of the summons and complaint on the defendant. Rule 102 describes how court papers must be served. Once served, the defendant has a limited window to reply or risk having a default judgment entered against them. Service of process rules are therefore essential to ensure a properly functioning justice system.

What Does Rule 102 Say About Electronic Service?

Traditional rules require a party to send a copy of the summons by mail to the last known residence of the party they are serving and to provide proof of service as well. According to Rule 102(f), when serving court papers via e-mail, text or DM, the party must file a motion and supporting affidavit that provides the reason the party believes the phone number, email address, or social media account used is active and has been recently accessed by the defendant/respondent. The serving party must still also send a copy of the summons by mail to the respondent’s last known residence and must also provide proof of service when sending a summons electronically.

The rules for electronic service described above have been utilized in practice for some time, but they were only officially memorialized in amendments to Rule 102(f) in April of 2023. This is not the first time Illinois courts have embraced modern technology in electronic communication for court use. For instance, Rule 14 was adopted in December 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing. Courts, while not closing completely, preferred that justice be accessed remotely for the time being. Rule 14 facilitated the expansion of text messaging in Illinois courts by authorizing any Illinois court or county clerk to implement a text message notification program. Although many have gratefully put the COVID pandemic in their rearview mirror, another outbreak seems always on the horizon, and the pandemic-era rule 14 remains in place. Notifications and reminders from the court, including mediation and arbitration dates, court-required appointments, new court filings, and general court announcements, including emergency announcements such as court closures, can all be accessed via text message. Parties to litigation and their counsel of record, the media, and the public in general can all avail themselves of text-based communications from the courts.

Your Litigation Team in Chicago

If you find yourself a party to a business or commercial dispute in the Chicago area, including employment law matters, real estate disputes, insurance claims and more, MacDonald, Lee & Senechalle, Ltd. is your source for skilled, knowledgeable, and insightful advice and representation. For a consultation or immediate assistance, call 847-310-0025 in Hoffman Estates or 847-298-5030 in Des Plaines.

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