Problems with international process service can cause big headaches when dealing with cases that cover two countries. We’ve even had attorneys go so far as having us purchase plane tickets in order to be able to serve an individual in a terminal before they jet off to another country. Those extremes can still be less drastic than the amount of effort, time and money involved in international process service.
There are times, particularly in cases involving the collection of a judgment, when international process service is inevitable.
Here are the three biggest problems in international process service.
How to Serve Internationally
This is one of the easiest of the three issues in international process service to solve. Knowing whether a country is a signatory to the Hague Service Treaty or Inter-American Service Convention and whether or not you need a judgment enforced will help you decide how to proceed with service. We’ve created this flowchart in case you need some help making the decision, or you can always call us and we’d be happy to help you.
Timing of International Service
International process service can take several months and sometimes up to a year depending on the type of service. When it comes to lawsuits and legal matters, most people want them resolved as quickly as possible so this timeline generally isn’t the ideal situation. Add into the situation delays when delayed with foreign governments and consulates, particularly ones who aren’t signatories to any conventions or treaties and you could see an even more extended timeline.
There are alternatives to obtain a shortened service time such as service via agent, but it all depends on whether or not you will be expecting a foreign country to enforce a ruling or judgment after service. If so, you should expect to serve according to the rules and laws of that specific country which could take time.
The reason for the length of the process is the amount of time it takes for the paperwork to work its way through the receiving country’s central authority as well as the receiving country when dealing with service through the Hague Convention. Service via Letters Rogatory will involve the US Justice Department and also involves dealing with the foreign courts and authorities who then forward the service on to the local courts with jurisdiction over the subject. This can take considerable time, in some cases up to a year.
Knowledge of Local/Country Laws and Rules
Even though a country may be a signatory to the Hague Service Convention, this doesn’t necessarily mean they comply with every portion. Countries can say they don’t agree to service by mail or alternate service and still be signatories, simply striking out the portions of the Service Convention.
On top of these partial acceptances of the Hague Service Convention, there are also specific local and country rules and laws which apply to service. Translation comes into play when dealing with different regions of a country, as the requirements for which language a document is to be translated into can vary depending on where in the country the service is being effectuated. Sending the documents in the wrong language can result in rejected service and having to resubmit to the service all over again.