The Kingdom of Denmark ratified the Convention of 15 November 1965 on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters, also called the Hague Service Convention, on August 2, 1969. The Convention’s provisions entered into force in Denmark the following October 1st.
US attorneys seeking service in Denmark would be wise to familiarize themselves with the mandatory character of the Convention as set forth in Volkswagenwerk A.G. v. Schlunk, 486 U.S. 694 (1988).
Canadian attorneys should consult provincial precedent — Canadian courts take a more nuanced view of the Convention, but effectively reach the same conclusion: its limitations must be observed. Regardless of forum court requirements, the service rules of the receiving country must be observed, or enforcement of a judgment may become impossible.
The Danish Central Authority is methodical and thorough and service is typically effected rather quickly by international standards.
Of note, while Denmark did not object to service directly via Dutch judicial authority, pursuant to Article 10(b) of the Hague Convention, Danish authorities are reluctant to effect this method of service. Litigants are advised to serve directly through the Danish Central Authority.
Danes are trained in English throughout their primary and secondary schooling, and like most of their Scandinavian neighbors, almost universally speak fluent English. While Denmark does not mandate translation of documents served in English, if a translation is not provided, service becomes voluntary, and the defendant is given the right to refuse service. Accordingly, although perhaps not mandatory, a Danish translation is definitely necessary.
In all cases, however, documents must reasonably be understood by the defendant in order to fulfill US Due Process requirements. In particular, for documents served upon a recipient who speaks neither English nor Danish, translation into a third language may even be necessary. US practitioners should explore this issue with our legal staff.
The nationwide Central Authority for Denmark is:
Ministry of Justice
Civil Law Division
1216 COPENHAGEN K
Denmark has not declared that it objects to direct service by postal channel. However, this does not imply that such method is valid service; Danish courts have not yet ruled on its validity, so difficulties may arise if a U.S. judgment needs to be enforced in Denmark.
In all cases, service via the postal channel should include a signed receipt mechanism (required under Fed. R. Civ. P. 4).
Mail service pursuant to the Hague Service Convention is fraught with problems—even when the destination state has not objected to such service. American jurisdictions are split regarding propriety of mail service under the Convention.
Plaintiffs are advised to proceed with caution when employing this channel—and LLS recommends against using this channel for service in Denmark.
When Denmark signed on to the Treaty, it expressed no opposition to direct service by a judicial officer, official or other competent person. However, Danish authorities do not generally recognize service by such persons, so their effect is questionable.
Denmark objects to direct service by “interested persons”, under the Convention.
LLS can assist you with service and can help you understand and meet the requirements for service of process in Denmark. Please call 1-800-755-5775 for more information.
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