By: Tom On: January 28, 2020 In: International Service of Process Comments: 0
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Legal Languages Services, while not a law firm, provides assistance to attorneys with international service of process and the taking evidence abroad. As the opinion in Snyder v. Stox Technologies[1] makes clear, international service of process and the taking of evidence abroad often require that some legal decision be made. Accordingly, we do not assist pro se plaintiffs –unless they are also attorneys.

Yet, pro se litigation can – as Snyder demonstrates – point out just where some of the legal decisions associated with international service of process and the taking of evidence abroad arise.[2] Specifically, this case underscores the importance of providing sufficient information and documentation when requesting alternative service.

An Overview of Snyder v. Stox Technologies

In this case, the pro se Plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the Defendants (Stox Technologies registered in Gibraltar and Moshe Hogeg who resides in Israel)  for:

(1) breach of contract, (2) breach of fiduciary duty, (3) fraud, (4) intentional infliction of emotional distress, (5) unjust enrichment, (6) declaratory relief, (7) accounting, and (8) violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1961, et. seq. (“RICO”) in connection with the Plaintiff’s alleged purchase of “Stox Tokens” (cryptocurrency tokens) from the Defendants.

The complexity of the subject matter and scope of the allegation in this case should be read as a foreshadower for the court’s opinion.

Reviewing the Relevant Law

In Snyder, the Plaintiff sought a court order requesting “the Clerk of the Court to Effect the Service of Summons, and Service Abroad of Judicial Documents.”[3] The court began its opinion by reviewing the relevant law:

“Serving an Individual in a Foreign Country,” (made applicable to corporations in foreign countries pursuant to Rule 4(h)(2)), provides that, “[u]nless federal law provides otherwise, an individual… may be served at a place not within any judicial district of the United States… by any internationally agreed means of service, such as those authorized by the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents.” The Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Matters, Nov. 15, 1965 (“Hague Service Convention”), requires each contracting state “to establish a central authority to receive requests for service of documents from other countries.” “When a central authority receives an appropriate request, it must serve the documents or arrange for their service, Art. 5, and then provide a certificate of service, Art. 6.” This is not the only method of service; Art. 10 of the Hague Service Convention, provides: Provided the State of destination does not object, the present Convention shall not interfere with—”(a) the freedom to send judicial documents, by postal channels, directly to persons abroad, “(b) the freedom of judicial officers, officials or other competent persons of the State of origin to effect service of judicial documents directly through the judicial officers, officials or other competent persons of the State of destination, “(c) the freedom of any person interested in a judicial proceeding to effect service of judicial documents directly through the judicial officers, officials or other competent persons of the State of destination.”[4]

In addition, the US Supreme Court in Water Splash, Inc. v. Menon, 137 S. Ct. 1504, 1513 (2017) held that service by mail under the Hague Service Convention “is permissible if two conditions are met: first, the receiving state has not objected to service by mail; and second, service by mail is authorized under otherwise-applicable law.”

The Court’s Opinion

Turning to the facts in this case, the court stated:

The Plaintiff has failed to provide enough information to the Court to determine exactly what he wants and has failed to provide any attachments. It appears that Israel and the United Kingdom of Great Britain (Gibraltar is its territory) are contracting states to the Hague Convention on Service. The Court makes no finding on either countries’ objections to the convention or whether Gibraltar is bound to the convention as a territory of Great Britain. The Plaintiff filed this case. It is his responsibility to determine the proper method of service of process and provide the Court with all the forms and documents he intends to serve.

So, while the court denied the Plaintiff’s motion, the court granted the Plaintiff leave to research service of process.

What are the Proper Methods of Effecting Service?

Do you know the answer to the court’s questions regarding service in the UK, Israel, and Gibraltar?

If not, here they are:[5]

  • The UK explicitly allows mail service.
  • Israel explicitly prohibits mail service.
  • Gibraltar is bound by the Convention as a territory of Great Britain.

How LLS Can Help

When dealing with international litigation, it’s imperative that you work with an experienced professional. With almost four decades of experience effecting service in more than 90 countries, LLS is the leading US provider of international service of process. We’ll be able to help you identify which documents require service and how that service should be effected, whether through the Hague Service Convention or via alternative channels.

Contact LLS today to learn more about how we can assist you.

Call 1-800-788-0450 or simply fill out our free quote form.

Notes

[1] Dist. Court, Case No. 19-6132 RJB, WD Washington 2019
[2] This blog is not meant to be construed as comprehensive guideline to where legal decisions in international service of process and the taking evidence abroad arise.
[3] The plaintiff in this case also sought a court appoint attorney because he could not afford an attorney. Finding that no exception circumstances existed, the court denied the Plaintiff’s motion for a court appointed attorney. See Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1236 (9th Cir. 1984).
[4] Citations omitted.
[5] See https://www.hcch.net/en/instruments/conventions/status-table/?cid=17


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