International process service is notoriously difficult for a number of reasons and many attorneys try to avoid it if possible. However when service becomes necessary this is a question we often hear:
“Why can’t we just give it to someone over there to serve?”
The answer to this question comes in two parts. The first part is yes, you could serve through an agent if you want to. However, there are times when such service will hold up if the case surrounds the issue of notification for initial process, such as in family law matters where a judgment will not be enforced overseas.
However, when it comes time to collect a judgment or enforce a ruling, not properly serving in the beginning can create some issues. Many times countries will not recognize a judgment unless the service was executed through the appropriate channels. For some countries, this will mean going through their specially appointed magistrates if they are a signatory to the Hague Convention.
For those countries who are not a signatory to any convention or treaty, the only possible way to serve is by Letters Rogatory. While time-consuming and expensive, not going this route could mean a case not having the end result one would have hoped for. No matter what the courts in the United States rule, there is no supreme jurisdiction granted simply because it comes from the US. In order to obtain compliance from another country, one must follow the rules and law of that specific country.
International process service is a time and cost-intensive action. If it is necessary to enforce a judgment or follow through on an action following the ruling in a case, serving directly through the Hague Convention or Letters Rogatory is highly recommended. Otherwise, all of the hard work put into a case (and the victory dance after the ruling) may be worthless.