Service of Process in Russia

Although the Russian Federation is a member state of the Convention of 15 November 1965 on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters (the Hague Service Convention), service pursuant to the Convention is impossible for US litigants.

The Russian Central Authority categorically refuses to accommodate US requests for Hague service, claiming that the US has violated the terms of the Convention by charging foreign plaintiffs for service of process in the United States, thus rendering it ineffective between the two nations.

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Despite the mandatory character of the Convention as set forth in Volkswagenwerk A.G. v. Schlunk, 486 U.S. 694 (1988), US counsel must rely on alternative methods to serve Russian defendants — with leave of the forum court. To that end, our staff attorneys regularly submit affidavits/declarations in support of motions to permit alternate methods of service. Those alternatives may include service upon a foreign subsidiary outside Russia, service by mail/FedEx, etc., as forum rules allow.

Requests for service in Canadian cases are still accommodated by the Russian Central Authority, so attorneys should consult provincial precedent to determine requirements. Canadian courts take a more nuanced view of the Convention than their US counterparts, but effectively reach the same conclusion: its limitations must be observed where possible. LLS can prepare Hague service requests for Canadian counsel, for dispatch from Canada.

Regardless of forum court requirements, the service rules of the receiving country must be observed, or enforcement of a judgment may become impossible. For US litigants, recognition and enforcement of a US judgment is all but impossible in Russia, but a method reasonably calculated to notify the defendant of the claim is still necessary to fulfill Due Process requirements.