Agreement by the defendant (or the defendant's attorney) to accept papers or a complaint without having the papers served by a process server or a sheriff. Acceptance of service is accomplished by signing a "receipt and acknowledgment of acceptance of service" (or similarly titled instrument). This satisfies the notice requirement of due process.
This is cost-reducing device adopted in many U.S. jurisdictions. The defendant may refuse to accept service, but if so, the defendant will be liable for the costs of having the papers/complaint served.
Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary
Agreement by a defendant or the defendant's attorney to accept a complaint or other petition (like divorce papers) without having the sheriff or process server show up at the door (often, the papers are received by mail). Most states use a form entitled Receipt and Acknowledgment of Acceptance of Service (or similar language), which the person who is served signs, dates, and sends back to the attorney who sent the complaint or petition. Attorneys must be careful that they have written legal authority from clients to receive papers on their behalf. (See also: service
Definition provided by Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary.
August 19, 2010, 5:10 pm