International Service of Process Under the Hague Convention
International service of process under the Hague Convention is one of the most common methods for effectuating service as more countries become signatories. But how does the process work and what should you expect when serving through the Hague Convention?
Not all countries who are signatories to the overarching Hague Convention are signatories to the part pertaining to service of process and establishing jurisdiction: The Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents. You should not assume that because you know the country is a signatory that you will be able to proceed with service of process through this method. It is important to either research yourself or to contact a professional who can provide you with information regarding the country you need to serve in.
Essentially the Hague Convention established a central authority for service requests to flow through, making it easier to pursue international service of process.
As far as a general timeline goes for international service of process under the Hague, you should expect the service to take around three to six months. Why so long? Take a look at some of the basic steps the service goes through and you’ll understand:
- A special “letter of request” is completed along with the necessary documentation and is sent to the appropriate central authority in the country where service is being completed.
- The central authority there reviews the documents to ensure completion and accuracy. They are then given to the local court with jurisdiction over the defendant.
- The local court then sends the service out an individual to serve the document.
- The local court then sends documentation to the central authority that service was effectuated.
And now the process has to go in reverse…
- The central authority then completes paperwork in accordance with the Hague Convention to verify service was completed.
- The central authority forwards the documentation back to the United States and sends it back to the individual who originally requested service.
It is generally recommended to hire a company experienced in these types of matters, as there are nuances and associated costs for each country. Additionally, if you fill out the forms incorrectly or have missing information you were not aware you needed, you could see a delay of anywhere from two to four months in effectuating service. That doesn’t make for a happy client.
Prior to actually sending out the service to the appropriate court, the documents may need to be translated depending on where they are going. Certain countries have particular regions which require a different translation language than in another part of the country. Without the proper translation, the service may be rejected by the central authority of the country it is being sent to or service may be considered invalid down the road.
That’s just a brief overview of international service of process under the Hague Convention. Have questions or not sure if the country you need service is a signatory? Give us a call and we’d be happy to get you the information you need.