Service

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Service

Any duty or labor performed for another person.

The delivery of a legal document that notifies the recipient of the commencement of a legal action or proceeding in which he or she is involved.

The term service has various meanings, depending upon the context of the word.

Under feudal law, tenants had a duty to render service to their lords in exchange for use of the land. The service required could take many forms: monetary payments, farm products, loyalty, attendance upon the lord as an armed horseman, carrying the king's banner, providing a sword or a lance, or plowing or other farm labor done for the king.

In contract law, service refers to an act or deed, rather than property. It is a duty or labor done by a laborer under the direction and control of the one for whom the service is performed. The term implies that the recipient of the service selects and compensates the laborer. It is the occupation, condition, or status of being a servant and often describes every kind of employment relationship. In addition, service may be used to denote employment for the government, as in the terms civil service, military service or the armed service, or public service.

In the area of domestic relations, the term refers to the uncompensated work, guidance, and upkeep an injured or deceased family member previously provided for the family; the injury or death of the provider of these services means that the work will have to be obtained from another source and at a price. In this context the term traditionally was restricted to the "services" of a wife under the theory that the husband's duty was to provide support and the wife's duty was to provide service. After injury to his wife, a husband could bring an action on his own behalf against the responsible party for compensation of the loss of her aid, assistance, comfort, and society. The modern view holds that a wife may also sue for the loss of assistance and society of her husband.

Service also means the delivery of a writ, summons and complaint, criminal summons, or other notice or order by an authorized server upon another. Proper service thereby provides official notification that a legal action or proceeding against an individual has been commenced.

Cross-references

Feudalism; Service of Process.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

service

n. 1) paid work by another person, either by contract or as an employee. "Personal services" is work that is either unique (such as an artist or actor) or based on a person's particular relationship to employer (such as a butler, nanny, traveling companion or live-in health care giver). 2) the domestic activities of a wife, including the marital relationship (consortium), are legally considered "services" for which a deprived husband may sue a person who has caused injury to his wife. 3) the official delivery of legal documents ("service of process") such as a summons, subpena, complaint, order to show cause (order to appear to show reasons why a judge should not make a particular order), writ (court order), or notice to quit the premises, as well as delivery by mail or in person of documents to opposing attorneys or parties, such as answers, motions, points and authorities, demands and responses. (See: employment, personal services, loss of consortium, service of process)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

SERVICE, contracts. The being employed to serve another.
     2. In cases of seduction, the gist of the action is not injury which the seducer has inflicted on the parent by destroying his peace of mind, and the reputation of his child, but for the consequent inability to perform those services for which she was accountable to her master or her parent who assumes this character for the purpose Vide Seduction, and 2 Mees. & W. 539; 7 Car. & P. 528.

SERVICE, feudal law. That duty which the tenant owes to his lord, by reason of his fee or estate.
     2. The services, in respect of their quality, were either free or base, and in respect of their quantity and the time of exacting them, were either certain or uncertain. 2 Bl. Com. 62.
     3. In the civil law by service is sometimes understood servitude. (q.v.)

SERVICE, practice. To execute a writ or process; as, to serve a writ of capias signifies to arrest a defendant under the process; Kirby, 48; 2 Aik. R. 338; 11 Mass. 181; to serve a summons, is to deliver a copy of it at the house of the party, or to deliver it to him personally, or to read it to him; notices and other papers are served by delivering the same at the house of the party, or to him in person.
     2. When the service of a writ is prevented by the act of the party on whom it is to be served, it will, in general, be sufficient if the officer do everything in his power to serve it. 39 Eng. C. L. R. 431 1 M. & G. 238.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
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