In many situations, plaintiffs may suffer damages as a result of multiple defendants’ actions or omissions.
And, in our increasingly interconnected world, such damages may easily result from the conduct of defendants located in different countries.
Such situations can make international service of process an even more delicate undertaking than it already is.
For example, imagine a scenario where a plaintiff vacationing at a Jamaican resort is seriously injured by a scuba diving mask which is manufactured and sold by a company in Switzerland, and also contains an allegedly defective part supplied by an Austrian manufacturer.
At first blush, such a scenario may appear to be a complex puzzle that involves questions of how to properly serve the resort in Jamaica, the Swiss company and the component parts manufacturer in Austria, not to mention what types of translations may be required.
So where do you begin?
What Rules Govern International Service of Process?
First, it is important to realize that the international service of process and translation requirements must be analyzed for each defendant based on the country in which they are to be served. The countries involved in the above scenario all have different rules on how defendants must be served in each of the respective countries.
Switzerland is a member of the Hague Service Convention, so the Swiss defendant must be served pursuant to the provisions of that treaty and the Swiss declarations and objections to the Hague Convention. When Switzerland signed on to the Hague Service Convention it declared that service on defendants located within its borders must be done through the Swiss Central Authority.
On the other hand, neither Austria nor Jamaica is a signatory to the Hague Service Convention or any other treaty governing international judicial assistance. To serve the Austrian and Jamaican defendants, US Federal and State Rules generally permit you to effect service of process by means of letter rogatory, judicial officer or international registered mail.
Judicial authorities in Austria, however, do not permit international service of process through a judicial officer. The best method available is dependent on a variety of factors that must be determined on a case-by-case basis. Legal Language Services can help you determine what the best approach for serving process abroad will be for your particular case.
What Languages Are Involved in Required Translations?
Knowing how to serve the defendants is only the first step in solving this puzzle. You must also determine if translation of the service documents is required and, if so, what languages are involved.
German is the official language of Austria. The translation for the Austrian defendant must be done through an Austrian court-certified translator or it will be rejected by the Austrian judicial authorities. Depending on the Canton in which the Swiss defendant is located, the required translation could be into German, Italian or French.
LLS can help you determine the official language of the particular Canton where your defendant is located and then prepare a certified translation into that language.
As for Jamaica, no translation would be required as English is the official language of that country. However, remember that the US Constitution requires that documents be served in a language that a defendant can understand so that the defendant is afforded due process of the law.
Every Case Is Different
The situation outlined here is only one permutation of the thousands of scenarios that a litigant involved in international litigation may face.
Contact us to learn how we can assist you in determining the best and most cost-effective course of action whenever you need to serve process abroad.