International Service of Process in Greece under the Hague Service Convention

The Hellenic Republic (Greece) ratified the Convention of 15 November 1965 on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters, also called the Hague Service Convention, on July 20, 1983. The Convention’s provisions entered into force in Greece the following September 18th.

(Read here for general background on processes and the methods of service available under the Hague Service Convention.)

US attorneys seeking service in Greece would be wise to familiarize themselves with the mandatory character of the Hague Service Convention as set forth in Volkswagenwerk A.G. v. Schlunk (486 U.S. 694 (1988).

Canadian attorneys should consult provincial precedent — Canadian courts take a more nuanced view of the Convention, but effectively reach the same conclusion: its limitations must be observed. Regardless of forum court requirements, the service rules of the receiving country must be observed, or enforcement of a judgment may become impossible.

About Serving Process in Greece

In spite of recent financial turmoil (or perhaps due to austerity and government reform measures) the Greek Central Authority is relatively methodical and thorough. Service is typically effected rather quickly by international standards. Its processing of requests has become steadily faster in recent years.

Of note, while specific requests for personal service are usually honored by the Central Authority, such a request is generally unnecessary. In most situations, the Central Authority relays requests to local prosecutors, who then instruct a local bailiff to effect service. Very often, bailiffs will work in pairs, so as to ensure that service is witnessed by another judicial officer. This practice makes evasion quite difficult for defendants.

Translation Requirements

Many Greeks speak English, to at least some extent. However, litigants cannot rely on this to justify not providing a translation. Greece’s accession to the Hague Convention requires that the summons and complaint be accompanied by a certified and legalized Greek translation.

In all cases, however, documents must reasonably be understood by the defendant in order to fulfill US Due Process requirements. In particular, documents served upon a recipient who speaks neither English nor Greek may even need to be translated into an additional language. US practitioners should explore this issue at length with our legal staff.

Translations must be legalized

The Hague Convention specifically negates the need for legalization of the source documents to be served on a defendant. That is, the original court documents (summons, complaint, etc.) may be conveyed in a request without an Apostille or other verification by state or provincial authorities.

The Convention is silent, however, as to specifics requirements for certification of translations. Greece requires that the translation which accompanies the source documents must itself carry an Apostille.

Central Authority

The Central Authority for Greece is:

Ministry of Justice, Transparency & Human Rights
Directorate of Pardon Award and International Judicial Co-operation
Section of International Judicial Co-operation in Civil Cases
96 Mesogeion Av.
Athens 11527

Service through Alternate Channels

Greece objects to all forms of alternative service under Article 10. As such, service may only be effected via the Central Authority channel outlined in Article 5.

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