In federal lawsuits, FRCP Rule 4(m) requires that process be served on a defendant within 120 days.
Comparable state rules range from as few as thirty days to as many as the federal standard.
But these deadlines are not carved in stone — where the defendant is in the United States, US District Courts may extend the 120-day deadline for good cause, and extensions are granted rather liberally.
Even more importantly, though, where the defendant is outside the US, Rule 4(m) simply does not apply.
Aside from the explicit text of the rule itself, a specific deadline for serving a foreign defendant would disregard the hurdles encountered in coordinating proper service in foreign jurisdictions. American lawyers enjoy no influence over the procedures undertaken by foreign governments.
But proper service of process is still necessary — and possible.
Successful Service of Process Abroad
Where a plaintiff must be concerned about enforcing a judgment in a foreign country, that country’s rules must be observed, and that sometimes entails a lengthy and arduous process of requesting judicial assistance via letters rogatory. This process can take months or even years to complete.
Even where the Hague Service Convention is in force, foreign bureaucracy can delay service of process by months, a year, or even more. And the Hague Convention’s requirements are mandatory for service in any member country. Simply put, litigants do not have a choice in whether to serve pursuant to the Convention.
Effective service abroad regularly requires more time than standard rules allow. Undertaking overseas service without specialized assistance is fraught with risk — often resulting in non-service, dismissal or the impossibility of enforcement once a judgment is granted.
LLS can explain the intricate procedures required for service in most foreign jurisdictions, including all Hague Service Convention member countries. In order to support litigators’ motions to extend time under Rule 4 and comparable state rules, we draft affidavits detailing how those rules interact with International Law.
Contact us today for a consultation with one of our staff attorneys.