6.7.1 Methods of service
Various provisions in the child support legislation allow the Registrar to give a 'notice in writing' or a 'written notice'. A notice must be served on the person who is required to receive, or comply with, the notice.
'Service' is delivery to the person who will be affected by the notice. The essence of service is that the relevant document must reach the person on whom it is to be served (Holmes and Ors v DFC of T 88 ATC 4906). A notice will be deemed to have been effectively served if it can be proved that the addressee actually received it.
There are various ways, or methods, by which a notice can be served on a person. In most cases, the Registrar will serve a notice by post.
CSA Regs section 19
CSRC Regs section 31
Evidence Act 1995 section 160, section 161, section 163
Electronic Transactions Act 1999 section 5, section 14A
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Personal service is the most effective method for service of notices as there is direct evidence of receipt. However, it is not convenient or efficient to rely on personal service in all cases.
If a notice is personally served, Services Australia will generally use a process server.
The person served has to be informed of the nature of the notice at the time it is handed to them. If a person refuses to take possession of the notice it can be left near them.
The person who served the notice should complete an affidavit of service (6.7.3).
Other methods of service available (CSA Regs section 19 and CSRC Regs section 31) are by:
- leaving the notice at the person's address for service, or
- sending the notice by prepaid post to the person's address for service.
A company can be served by leaving a notice at, or mailing a notice to, the company's head office, registered office, or principal office.
Service by post
If postal service is used, the notice can be sent by normal prepaid post, by express post or registered post.
Service by post is deemed to occur at the time it would arrive in the ordinary course of the post. In proceedings in relation to offences under the child support legislation, a notice is presumed to have been received 12 working days after the date it was prepared (Evidence Act sections 160 and 163) unless it can be proved otherwise.
Service by facsimile
A notice can be served by facsimile. However, Services Australia usually sends notices by post. In limited circumstances, notices will be served by facsimile if there is a pre-existing arrangement with the recipient to accept notices in that way.
As a backup for a posted notice, a copy of the notice may also be sent by facsimile. This may be particularly helpful if urgent service is necessary.
Service by electronic communication
If a person consents to receiving notices or other communications by way of electronic communication, a notice can be served by leaving it at the person's designated electronic address. Express consent is not required, but can be reasonably inferred (Electronic Transactions Act section 5).
A notice can be served electronically by email or online. A notice is deemed to be received at the time it becomes capable of being retrieved from the person's email or online account (Electronic Transactions Act section 14A).