Israel acceded to 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 14, 1972, and its provisions entered into force the following October 13th.

US attorneys seeking service in Israel 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.

Hague Service Issues Unique to Israel

A large number of Israeli individuals and entities are parties to litigation in the US and Canada even though Israel has a population smaller than that of Virginia. LLS submits a proportionally high number of Hague requests to the Israeli authority, especially in the pharmaceutical and intellectual property fields.

Without the use of an Israeli court-certified process server, service of a Hague request can be a lengthy process bogged down in bureaucracy. Fortunately, LLS has direct access to court-certified process servers who are able to effect service faster than those in almost any country in the world.

Translation Requirements

Israel is relatively unique among civil law jurisdictions, in that its declarations to the Convention specify English as an acceptable language for service documents. Of course, Hebrew is the primary language, but documents may also be served in Arabic. The Hague Certificate and local proof of service are often prepared in Hebrew and will need to be translated into English prior to filing with the forum Court.

In all cases, the language of served 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 Hebrew nor Arabic, translation into yet another language may be necessary. US practitioners should explore this issue with our legal staff.

Palestinian Defendants

Requests for service in the Palestinian territories should still be forwarded to Israel’s Central Authority.

In such cases, Israeli officials work with their Palestinian counterparts (or direct private agents on request) to effect service. Plaintiffs must translate service documents into Arabic in order to avoid any hurdles to service upon defendants in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Alternative Channels under Article 10

Article 10(a):

Israel does not object to service by postal channels. In all cases, service via the postal channel should include a signed receipt mechanism (required under Fed. R. Civ. P. 4).

Caveat: Mail service pursuant to the Hague Service Convention is fraught with issues, including the need to have it executed in accordance with the forum court’s local rules, and where service abroad is proper when the destination country has not affirmatively stated that it is not opposed to mail service.

Article 10(b) & 10(c):

Israel has not declared any objection to service by judicial officers, officials or other competent persons, but any service carried out by those persons must be at the direction of the Directorate of Courts. Because that Directorate is also the Central Authority designated to receive Hague requests, this effectively render Articles 10(b) and 10(c) moot. Technically, a request must still be filed with the Authority, so the service is effected pursuant to Article 5(b).