Service in the UK is complicated by the Kingdom’s varied member countries. Although united under one crown, the UK is comprised of distinct political units which are progressively gaining autonomy.
England & Wales
Note that certain types of substituted Hague service and mailbox service may be routinely effected under foreign law, but have adverse Due Process implications in US jurisdictions. Service in England and Wales is unique; it appears simple, but is fraught with pitfalls.
For example, the UK initially made a confusing declaration to the Treaty seemingly opposed to service pursuant to Articles 10(b) and (c), but later clarified the declaration to permit service under Article 10 by a “competent person.” Note that English and Welsh process servers are not “competent persons” entitled to serve process under the Hague Convention. Therefore, service directly via a British process server may be easily quashed in the US.
LLS’ solicitor partners can effect service much more quickly than through direct requests to the Central Authority.
Scots law is not technically a common law system, although the English common law looms large in its heritage, especially in criminal matters. As to civil legal processes, however, the Scottish system is more a hybrid of civil and common law traditions.
As such, Article 10(b) of the Convention is not a practical avenue for service under Scots law; service in Scotland must be undertaken by a sheriff or messenger at arms, in a similar fashion to continental bailiffs.
LLS maintains relationships with various messengers at arms, and those relationships allow us to offer more individualized service as requests wend their way through the Central Authority procedure.
Service in Northern Ireland is substantially similar to that in England & Wales, although a separate Central Authority is established in Belfast for such service. Articles 5 and 10(b) are effective.
Service on the “Emerald Isle” is complicated by the divided governance of the territory. Only the counties of Antrim, Armagh, Derry/Londonderry, Down, Fermanagh, and Tyrone are part of the United Kingdom. The remaining counties comprise the Republic of Ireland.
While the Republic is also a member of the Hague Service Convention, it handles service requests differently. Neither government may effect service in the territory of the other, so litigants absolutely must ensure whether their defendant is located in the Republic or the counties of Northern Ireland.
The Convention is in force for most of Britain’s overseas territorial units, although many former colonies have achieved independence. For the most part, those territories have either (1) gained independence and considered themselves bound by the Convention, (2) gained independence and acceded to the Convention independently, (3) gained independence and have not yet declared themselves bound, or (4) remain part of the UK and therefore bound. In the latter case, many territories maintain their own Central Authorities.