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Hague Service Convention

The Hague Service Convention is a federal treaty which entered into force in the United States in 1964.

The Hague Service Convention was created to provide a standardized method of service of process between signatory countries. It is the most widely recognized method of international process service and has even been added as a required method in some U.S. service statutes. However, of the approximately 200 (+/-) countries of the world, only 68 are signatory to the Hague Service Convention.

Of the at least 39 different “Hague Conventions”, Hague Convention #14 is the "Service" Convention and is solely for the service of "notice" documents between signatory countries (summons, complaint, and associated documents) but is not meant to be used for service of a subpoena or any other document requesting a form of evidence (with the exception of document subpoenas for service in Japan).

If we are retained to effect Hague service on your behalf, we will:

  • prepare all necessary treaty documents and facilitate service being properly effected, either through the appropriate central authority or our appointed agent (as in expedited Hague service where available)
  • provide, at no extra cost, supporting affidavits, and assistance, for obtaining extensions of time to serve, informing the applicable court or client of status (when available) etc.
  • send all documents abroad using international courier (such as UPS, FEDEX, etc.)

Common Controversy

Upon accession to the Hague Service Convention, a signatory country is allowed the opportunity to voice objections to, impose restrictions on, or issue a requirement relating to, any of the Articles of the Convention. The most common controversy surrounds a signatory country's objection or lack of objection to the various portions of Article 10, which generally allow the applicant to avoid violating the Convention by sidestepping the use of the foreign country's designated Central Authority. The text of Article 10 is as follows:

Article 10

  1. Provided the State of destination does not object, the present Convention shall not interfere with
  2. the freedom to send judicial documents, by postal channels, directly to persons abroad
  3. the freedom of judicial officers, officials or other competent persons of the State of origin to effect service of judicial documents directly through the judicial officers, officials or other competent persons of the State of destination, the freedom of any person interested in a judicial proceeding to effect service of judicial documents directly through the judicial officers, officials or other competent persons of the State of destination

With regard to para. (a), significant controversy exists over the term freedom to "send" (as is quoted in par.(a) above) which some courts have ruled does not mean freedom to "serve".

The majority of signatory countries object to private service.

SERVICE BY MAIL OR PRIVATE SERVER IN A COUNTRY WHERE A FORMAL OBJECTION TO IT HAS BEEN DECLARED IS A VIOLATION OF THE TERMS OF THE SERVICE CONVENTION AND SHOULD NOT BE USED.

With regard to para. (b) and (c), there are many countries where this is an option, but often not a practical one. The reasons for this are that U.S. consular officers are forbidden by regulation to assist in the service of process, process servers, as a private profession, do not exist in most foreign countries, and many judicial officers in foreign countries will not serve documents sent to them directly from private individuals in the United States.

What needs to be taken into consideration at all times is that IF you ever intend to attempt enforcement of a judgment IN the foreign country, the judgment should be obtained based upon a method of service considered valid in the courts of the foreign country. Use of the Hague Service Convention solves this potential problem because it is recognized as valid service in the courts of all signatory countries (which includes ALL U.S. courts).