What is an agent for service and why do I need one?

If you are thinking about setting up a company in the UK, one of the main things to consider is how your company will work legally, given that parties to your transactions may be based in numerous countries throughout the world. Cross-border transactions involving your UK company will most likely be governed by UK law, and an agent for service may be required or used by another company where one of the parties to the transaction does not have a physical presence in the UK. Having a basic understanding of the role of an agent for service, sometimes known as a process agent, will help you save time and money when dealing with cross-border transactions.

What is an agent for service?

In order to begin court proceedings in the UK, court papers must be served on the person who is party to the dispute. However, where the party on which you wish to serve papers does not have a physical presence in the UK, the process for serving these papers on the individual can be difficult. The papers would need to be served abroad, which can be a lengthy and often futile process. However, it is common practice for parties to a contract to insist on an agent for service clause, requiring parties to appoint an agent in the UK to accept service on behalf of the individual or company with no presence in the UK. The clause will state that service of the papers on this agent will constitute proper service for the purpose of court proceedings.

Do I need an agent for service?

Having an agent for service may be a non-negotiable term for many businesses you transact with, and is a vital element of cross-border transactions. Loans, credit facilities, leasing and other types of funding may require your business to have an agent for service. An agent may also act in a wider capacity for the company, processing more general business documents. If you are thinking of setting up a business in the UK, contact us today to find out more about the benefits of an agent for service.

Agent for Service: harnessing globalisation

Setting up a company or subsidiary company in the UK today has become easier than ever as we live and work in an age of globalisation. That means local high streets have developed a homogenised format, with virtually every one of them looking identical as global brands obtain a local presence and prominence.

It is not just in retail, either. Major service industries such as banking, foreign exchange and financial and insurance services compete in a global marketplace. What is more, globalisation has opened up economies and markets, making the national international and, in some cases, even supra-national.

The liberalisation of trade, and the deregulation of capital markets – bolstered by rapid technological innovations – are also reducing transport costs, facilitating instantaneous methods of cost-effective communication, both internally and externally. This enables virtually any type of business (manufacturing or service industry) to easily engage in cross-border transactions or set up shop, almost anywhere.

That may all be well and good, but how can any one business or individual service provider cope with the cross-cultural challenges, language differences and labyrinthine legal variations involved in entering a ‘foreign’ marketplace?

The simplest and most effective way to safely open a UK office for your company, for example, or outsource elements of your business activity is to use an agent for service. Essential for all non-UK based companies, an agent for service is able to register your company and accept tax and other legal documents on your behalf. Other aspects covered by agents for service include: Corporate Legal (company incorporation, insurances, registrations), Financial Administration (bookkeeping, reporting, VAT, CIS, EC Sales), HR (contracts, secondments), Payroll and Virtual Offices (trading address, telephone answering). A company based in Sweden, for example, wishing to establish a UK subsidiary (or subsidiaries) can do so, all through the one-stop-shop of an agent for service.

Since your registered agent’s address remains constant, you can change or multiply your business location(s) without having to file additional paperwork to change your address every time you move. With a registered agent, you can harness globalisation to your advantage.