QUESTION: I have been appointed receiver to enforce a judgment. I filed a motion in the case which I served on counsel for the plaintiff (the judgment creditor) and counsel for the defendant (the judgment debtor). The court denied my motion, without prejudice, stating that I need to serve the judgment creditor himself and that service on his counsel was not good enough. What’s going on? I thought service on counsel for a party constituted service on the party.
ANSWER: Prior to the entry of judgment you are correct. Service on counsel who has appeared for a party in an action constitutes service on the client. See generally, Cal. Code Civ. P. § 283. The rules change, however, once a judgment is entered, a fact many counsel, but not the court in your case, often overlook. The Enforcement of Judgments law, Cal. Code Civ. P. § 680.010 et. seq., has specific provisions concerning the manner of service of notices and other papers. With regard to a judgment creditor, the normal provisions regarding service on the counsel of record are continued. Cal. Code Civ. P. § 684.010 provides, subject to some exceptions, that notice or other papers to be served on a judgment creditor “shall be served on the judgment creditor’s attorney of record rather than on the judgment creditor if the judgment creditor has an attorney of record.” The rules change, however, with regard to a judgment debtor. In order to properly serve a writ, notice, order or other paper on a judgment debtor the items must be served “on the judgment debtor instead of the attorney for the judgment debtor.” Cal. Code Civ. P. § 684.020(a). There is an exception, however, and that is where the judgment debtor has filed with the court and served on the judgment creditor’s attorney a request that papers be served on the judgment debtor’s attorney and the judgment debtor’s attorney has signed a consent to receive papers on behalf of the judgment debtor. Cal. Code Civ. P. § 684.020(b). The purpose behind this section is to insure that the judgment debtor has actual knowledge of the enforcement proceedings. Alcalde v. NAC Real Estate Investments & Assignments, Inc., 580 F. Supp. 2nd 969, 972 fn. 5 (C.D. Cal. 2008). Therefore, notice of your motion served on the judgment debtor’s counsel is not good enough; the judgment debtor has to be served. To be safe, you should serve the judgment debtor and his counsel.
These provisions apply to you as a receiver in aid of execution because receivers in aid of execution are appointed pursuant to the provisions of Article 7 of the Enforcement of Judgments Law. Cal. Code Civ. P. §§ 708.610 and 708.620.
Prejudgment receivership appointments are made pursuant to Title 7, “Other Provisional Remedies in Civil Actions,” specifically, the provisions starting at §564, or provisions in other code sections such as the California Corporations Code, the Business and Professions Code , etc.”
This blog is intended to discuss current trends in receivership law and practice. It should not be construed as representing advice on specific, individual legal matters, but rather as an overview of the subject discussed. Your questions and comments are always welcome. Please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 281-6363 to further discuss this blog or to answer any questions.
Peter A. Davidson is a Partner of Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP. His practice includes all aspects of receivership and bankruptcy law. He also acts as a receiver, conservator and monitor in state and federal court.