The Republic of Iceland 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 November 10, 2008.
The Convention’s provisions entered into force in Iceland on July 1st of the following year.
US attorneys seeking service in Iceland would be wise to familiarize themselves with the mandatory character of the 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.
The Icelandic Central Authority, while not as swift as many of its Scandinavian neighbors, is methodical and efficient. Difficulties are quite rare.
Icelanders are generally highly skilled in English, as its study is compulsory in schools. As a result, Iceland does not specifically require translation of English documents under the Hague Service Convention.
In all cases, however, documents must reasonably be understood by the defendant in order to fulfill US Due Process requirements. In particular, for documents served upon a recipient who speaks neither English nor Icelandic, translation into another language altogether may be necessary.
Accordingly, although perhaps not mandatory, an Icelandic translation is advisable in many cases. US practitioners are encouraged to discuss this issue with us.
The nationwide Central Authority for Iceland is:
Sýslumaðurinn í Keflavík
Iceland has declared that it does not object to direct service by postal channel. However, this does not imply that such method is valid service. 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 should proceed with caution when employing this channel — LLS recommends against its use.
In all cases, service via the postal channel should include a signed receipt mechanism (required under Fed. R. Civ. P. 4).
Iceland specifically objects to direct service by a judicial officer, official or other competent person, as well as by “interested persons,” under the Convention.
LLS can assist you with service and can help you understand and meet the requirements for service of process in Iceland. Please call 1-800-755-5775 for more information.
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