How Lawyers Use Skip Tracing

Lawyers use skip tracing in a number of different ways depending on their practice area.

  1. Locating defendants / debtors
  2. Locating witnesses
  3. Locating wills or beneficiaries
  4. Serving documents

Skip tracing is the process of locating an individual using various databases when they have disappeared due to debt, crime, or avoidance of any other financial or legal matter.

The term “skip tracing” originates from the popular phrase “skipping town”, which is generally used in the context of a crime of any sort.

It is performed by a skip tracer, a trained individual that will likely pay for various databases not accessible to the public to effectively obtain the location of the individual in question.

The process of skip tracing will generally begin with the collection of any known information about the person you are looking to identify, which will then be reported to the skip tracer to assist with their search.

This information may not be applicable at the point of locating but can still assist in the search.

It may include basic knowledge such as their first, middle, and last name, date of birth, last known address, last known workplace, and family or other known relationships.

There are various strategies used in skip tracing. Their effectiveness will rely on the details of your matter and the application of the knowledge known and validated.

If you are a lawyer in need of a skip trace then contact us for an obligation-free consultation

Lawyers use Skip Tracing for Locating Defendants

As you may know, it is not necessarily uncommon for an individual to skip town when they have committed or are being tried for a crime.

If this occurs the matter will likely be halted until the defendant is located, as to allow a fair trial with all parties present.

In this case, a lawyer may employ the help of a skip tracer to locate this individual, in order to assist the plaintiffs, other defendants, and the matter as a whole.

Business Partners

If a business partner is guilty of a crime, generally one regarding their business such as misconduct, workplace offences, or fraud, they may flee their current living quarters and even go so far as to change their name to avoid consequences.

In this case, the lawyer of the plaintiff and/or the lawyer of other defendants in the matter may use a skip tracer to locate this individual.

Inadequate Builders

Have you ever had work done on your property that was simply poorly done?

Once the work is complete, a builder aware of their awful work may skip town to avoid facing a lawsuit for their actions.

If this is the case, a lawyer may engage a skip tracer to locate the builder so you can sue them for their inadequate work that did not live up to the agreements.

A Tradesman

Have you ever been scammed by a tradesman?

Tradesmen will pass through town after town performing terrible work (if they start the job), charging high prices for their work, and then skipping town before you have the chance to notice what’s occurred.

This is actually more popular than you may think and is a common scam in the world of trade.

These individuals can be extremely difficult to locate, so lawyers will likely employ the assistance of a skip tracer to help to find them.

Lawyers use Skip Tracing for Locating Witnesses

Witnesses are a crucial part of criminal trials and, if witnesses were present, it is vital that you locate them in order to provide evidence for your argument.

Another reason lawyers may use skip tracing is to locate witnesses related to the current matters of their clients.

Witnesses may skip town to avoid questioning or simply for personal reasons, especially if the matter occurred a significant time in the past.


Within providing evidence in a criminal case, eyewitnesses are a key source that will generally be quite convincing to a judge or jury.

If they did not give their information at the time of questioning or their details have changed since lawyers may need to skip tracing to secure that evidence.

If you are a lawyer in need of a skip trace then contact us for an obligation-free consultation


A court matter can be a long and trivial matter, taking up to years to come to a complete conclusion!

For this reason, sometimes witnesses of a crime will simply move on with their lives and have changes in their personal information.

In this case, lawyers may use a skip tracer to locate the witness.

Intentional hiding

In criminal cases, you will sometimes encounter some fairly infamous individuals who no one particularly wants to cross.

If someone witnesses a crime committed by said individual, they may enter into hiding to avoid being forced to speak against them for fear of their safety or life.

In this case, lawyers may use skip tracers to locate the witness, occasionally entering them into witness protection services for their safety.

Lawyers use Skip Tracing for Wills & Estates

Lawyers may also use a skip tracer to locate a beneficiary for a will.

A beneficiary is an individual included in someone’s will who will receive something from the will once the will holder has passed.

There are generally various complications with the carrying out of the instructions on a will as some people may be living in different cities or countries, be unknown to the family of the deceased, changed their name since their last encounter with the deceased, etc.

If an individual on a will is unable to be reached through a simple method, a lawyer may employ a skip tracer to locate and identify them so they can receive whatever is stated on the will.

Lawyers use Skip Tracing for Serving Documents

Serving documents, or process serving, is the act of officially delivering a court document to the individual it was intended for.

This may be necessary for various circumstances such as child custody, divorce, or a lawsuit.

If the individual intended is not living in their last known address and is not responding to attempts to contact them, the use of a skip tracer may be necessary.

How Lawyers use Skip Tracing

A lawyer will, in most circumstances, choose a skip tracer to employ off of their own bat, as in without the consultation of their client.

If there are issues with the skip tracer, such as failing to locate the individual, providing incorrect information regarding their whereabouts, trespassing or other violation of privacy rights, or harassment, it will be the responsibility of the lawyer. In no uncertain terms, if you are a lawyer, it is vital that you take your time and do your research when deciding on a skip tracer; you may end up personally liable if you do not!

If you are a lawyer in need of a skip trace then contact us for an obligation-free consultation

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