Hague Service Convention

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Hague Service Convention
Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters
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  Contracting States
  Contracting States
Signed 15 November 1965
Location Netherlands The Hague
Effective 10 February 1969
Condition 3 ratifications
Parties 68 (May 2013)
Depositary Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Languages French and English
Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters at Wikisource

The Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters, more commonly called the Hague Service Convention, is a multilateral treaty which was signed in The Hague on 15 November 1965 by members of the Hague Conference on Private International Law. It allows service of process of judicial documents from one signatory state to another without use of consular and diplomatic channels. The issue of international service had been previously addressed as part of the 1905 Civil Procedure Convention which was also signed in The Hague, which did not command wide support and was ratified by only 22 countries.

Diplomatic service via letters rogatory[edit]

Main article: Letter rogatory

Diplomatic channels are generally used between those states that are not contracting parties to the convention. It is generally effected by a letter rogatory, a formal request from the court in the country where proceedings were initiated or underway to a court in another country where the defendant resided. This procedure generally requires transmission of the document to be served from the originating court to the foreign ministry in the state of origin. The foreign ministry in the state of origin forwarded the request to the foreign ministry in the destination state. The foreign ministry then forwards the documents to the local court where the party to be served resided and the local court would arrange for service on the party to be served. Once service was made, a certificate of service (proving that service was made) would then pass through the same channels in reverse. Under a somewhat more streamlined procedure, courts can sometimes forward service requests to the foreign ministry or the foreign court directly, cutting out one or more steps in the process.

Procedure[edit]

The Hague Service Convention established a more simplified means for parties in signatory states to effect service in other contracting states. Under the convention, each contracting state is required to designate a "Central Authority" to accept incoming requests for service. A "Judicial Officer" who is competent to serve process in the state of origin is permitted to send request for service directly to the "Central Authority" of the state where service is to be made. Upon receiving the request, the Central Authority in the receiving state arranges for service in a manner permitted within the receiving state, typically through a local court to the defendant's residence. Once service is effected, the "Central Authority" sends a certificate of service to the "Judicial Officer' who made the request. Parties are required to use three standardised forms:

  • a request for service
  • a summary of the proceedings (similar to a summons),
  • a certificate of service.

The main benefits of the Hague Service Convention over Letters Rogatory is that it is faster (requests generally take 2 – 4 months rather than 6 – 12 months), it uses standardised forms which should be recognised by authorities in signatory countries, and in most cases, it is cheaper because service can be effected by the local attorney without hiring a foreign attorney to advise on how to serve.

The Hague Service Convention does not prohibit a receiving state from permitting international service by other methods otherwise authorised by local law (for example, service directly by mail or personal service by a person otherwise authorised to service process in the foreign country). For example, in the United States, service can often be made by a private process server. States which permit parties to use these "alternative means" of service make a separate designation in the documents they file with the Convention.

Interpretation issues[edit]

Definition of court officers[edit]

In the United States, an attorney is regarded as an officer of the court,[1] but not all countries accept them to "participate in their court procedures".[2]

Service by mail[edit]

The interpretation of a provision in article 10(a) is controversial. The provision permits the requesting judicial officer to "send" judicial documents by postal channels to countries that authorise this usage in ratifying the convention, such as France and Italy. Other provisions of the convention say "serve" or "service". The controversy is over whether the provision permits service directly on parties by mail.[citation needed] In the United States, some courts interpret this provision to permit service by mailing documents directly to individuals; some state such as Florida allow Marriage License By Mail to have an apostile attached to meet the requirements of authenication[citation needed] others hold that the provision only authorises sending, but not serving, documents by mail.[citation needed] The European Court of Justice and courts in Greece and Alberta interpret the provision to permit formal service by mail.[citation needed] Other countries, including Germany, Switzerland, South Korea, and most current and former communist countries, require incoming service to be effected exclusively through the country's central authority.[3]

Relation with other instruments[edit]

Under the convention, countries may conclude different agreements between them that take precedence over the convention. Thus, within the European Union (except for Denmark) Council Regulation (EC) No. 1348/2000 applies instead of the convention.

States parties[edit]

As of May 2013, 68 states are contracting parties of the Hague Service Convention. They include 54 of the 73 Hague Conference on Private International Law member states, plus Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Colombia, Kuwait, Malawi, Moldova, Pakistan, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, and Seychelles.

State party Signature Ratified or acceded Entry into force
 Albania 1 November 2006 1 July 2007
 Antigua and Barbuda 1 May 1985 1 November 1981
 Argentina 2 February 2001 2 December 2001
 Armenia 27 June 2012 1 February 2013
 Australia 15 March 2010 1 November 2010
 Bahamas, The 17 June 1997 1 February 1998
 Barbados 10 February 1969 1 October 1969
 Belarus 6 June 1997 1 February 1998
 Belgium 21 January 1966 19 November 1970 18 January 1971
 Belize 8 September 2009 1 May 2010
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 16 June 2008 1 February 2009
 Botswana 10 February 1969 1 September 1969
 Bulgaria 23 November 1999 1 August 2000
 Canada 26 September 1998 1 May 1999
 China 6 May 1991 1 January 1992
 Colombia 10 April 2013 1 November 2013
 Croatia 28 February 2006 1 November 2006
 Cyprus 26 October 1982 1 June 1983
 Czech Republic 28 January 1993 1 January 1993
 Denmark 7 January 1969 2 August 1969 1 October 1969
 Egypt 1 March 1966 12 December 1968 10 February 1969
 Estonia 2 February 1996 1 October 1996
 Finland 15 November 1965 11 November 1969 10 November 1969
 France 12 January 1967 3 July 1972 1 September 1972
 Germany 15 November 1965 27 April 1979 26 June 1979
 Greece 20 July 1983 20 July 1983 18 September 1983
 Hungary 13 July 2004 1 April 2005
 Iceland 10 November 2008 1 July 2009
 India 23 November 2006 1 August 2007
 Ireland 20 October 1989 5 April 1994 4 June 1994
 Israel 25 November 1965 14 August 1972 13 October 1972
 Italy 25 January 1979 25 November 1981 24 January 1982
 Japan 12 March 1970 28 May 1970 27 July 1970
 Korea, South 13 January 2000 1 August 2000
 Kuwait 8 May 2002 1 December 2002
 Latvia 28 March 1995 1 November 1995
 Lithuania 2 August 2000 1 June 2001
 Luxembourg 27 October 1971 9 July 1975 7 September 1975
 Macedonia, Republic of 23 December 2008 1 September 2009
 Malawi 24 April 1972 1 December 1972
 Malta 1 February 2011 1 October 2011
 Mexico 2 November 1999 1 June 2000
 Moldova 4 July 2012 1 February 2013
 Monaco 1 March 2007 1 November 2007
 Montenegro 16 January 2012 1 September 2012
 Morocco 24 March 2011 1 November 2011
 Netherlands 15 November 1965 3 November 1975 2 January 1976
 Norway 15 October 1968 2 August 1969 1 October 1969
 Pakistan 7 December 1988 1 August 1989
 Poland 13 February 1996 1 September 1996
 Portugal 5 July 1971 27 December 1973 25 February 1974
 Romania 21 August 2003 1 April 2004
 Russia 1 May 2001 1 December 2001
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 6 January 2005 27 October 1979
 San Marino 15 April 2002 1 November 2002
 Serbia 2 July 2010 1 February 2011
 Seychelles 18 November 1980 1 July 1981
 Slovakia 15 March 1993 1 January 1993
 Slovenia 18 September 2000 1 June 2001
 Spain 21 October 1976 4 June 1987 3 August 1987
 Sri Lanka 31 August 2000 1 June 2001
 Sweden 4 February 1969 2 August 1969 1 October 1969
  Switzerland 21 May 1985 2 November 1994 1 January 1995
 Turkey 11 June 1968 28 February 1972 28 April 1972
 Ukraine 1 February 2001 1 December 2001
 United Kingdom 10 December 1965 17 November 1967 10 February 1969
 United States 15 November 1965 24 August 1967 10 February 1969
 Venezuela 29 October 1993 1 July 1994

References[edit]

  1. ^ "United States of America – Central Authority & practical information". Hague Conference on Private International Law. Retrieved 11 August 2011. 
  2. ^ "Preparation of Letters Rogatory". US Department of State. Retrieved 11 August 2011. 
  3. ^ http://www.hcch.net/index_en.php?act=conventions.status&cid=17 Table of HSC member nations, including reservations and declarations

External links[edit]