The Hague Service Convention offers plaintiffs a number of channels by which service may be accomplished in the foreign country. All of these channels constitute proper “Hague Service” under US law, and, where certified by the receiving state, service is extraordinarily difficult to quash.

LLS routinely serves process under the Hague Service Convention, and is in constant contact with Central Authorities and judicial officers in Hague countries worldwide, obtaining status reports, soliciting feedback, and refining its methodologies in order to perfect service for its clients.

We can advise you on exactly how your Hague Service Request should be prepared, how it will travel through the foreign judicial system, and what potential pitfalls it may encounter along the way.

Hague Channels for Service

The most commonly used channels for service under the Hague Service Convention are:

  1. Service through a Central Authority in the foreign country (Article 5)
  2. Service through an alternative channel (diplomat, mail, judicial officer) in the foreign country, provided that the country does not formally object (Articles 8, 9 and 10)

Service through the Central Authority

The Hague Service Convention provides that service may always be effected through the judicial system of the destination country. This is accomplished by filing a request with the Central Authority designated by that country (as described in Article 5 of the Convention), and requesting either routine service (according to the jurisdiction’s normal method) or service by a particular method permitted by local law.

HSC Translation Requirements

Article 5 of the Convention allows a member country to require that documents served therein be translated into its official language. Article 7 requires that Hague model forms be completed in English or in French or, alternatively, in the language of the destination country. Further, US notions of due process will always require that the defendant understand the documents with which he or she is being served. As a constitutional right, due process trumps the requirements of the Convention and foreign law in any action before US courts.

Frequently, all documents served must be translated into at least one language other than English. The exact language to be used is determined by the defendant’s native tongue and the jurisdiction in which he or she is domiciled.

At Legal Language, we can help you determine the proper language and provide the required translation. We can even certify the translation when needed.

HSC Forms

The Hague Service Convention provides that a set of three model forms (“Request,” “Certificate,” & “Summary of the Document to be Served,”) and one recommended form (“Notice”) must accompany the documents to be served.

These forms are designed to summarize the key contents of the court documents and guide the defendant to the appropriate action. Our staff is adept at ensuring the proper completion of these documents.

Service Through Alternative Channels

Alternative channels of service are available through the HSC including service by diplomat, mail, and judicial officer. At LLS, we can advice you on the proper means of alternative service and help you through the procedure when applicable.

Articles 8 & 9: Diplomatic channel

US diplomats are specifically prohibited from directly serving process. The diplomatic channel is often used in non-Hague Convention service, where service must be conveyed via the foreign state, but Hague Articles 8 and 9 are inapplicable to US litigants. 

Article 10(a): Postal channel

Individual member states may or may not object to service by mail, just as many US jurisdictions allow or disallow service by mail.

Caveat:

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. 

Articles 10(b) and 10(c): Judaical officials channel

Article 10(b) refers to “judicial officers, officials or other competent persons of the State,” and article 10(c) refers to “interested persons.”

“Judicial officer,” “official,” “competent person,” and “interested person” are terms defined under the laws of the destination state, not under the laws of the requesting state. As such, US practitioners should not assume that hiring an official or private process server will comply with the Convention.

Are you wondering what method to use to effect service abroad?  Contact Legal Language Services toll-free in the United States at 1-800-755-5775 for a free consultation with our staff of attorneys and paralegals.