Hague Service Convention
|Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters|
State party to the Convention
|Signed||15 November 1965|
|Effective||10 February 1969|
|Depositary||Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands|
|Languages||English and French|
|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 adopted in The Hague, The Netherlands, on 15 November 1965 by member states of the Hague Conference on Private International Law. The treaty allows for service of process of legal documents from one state to another without the use of consular or diplomatic channels. The treaty supersedes the 1905 Civil Procedure Convention, which had previously dealt with the issue of international service of process.
Diplomatic service via letters rogatory
For states which are not party to the Hague Service Convention, diplomatic channels are generally used for the service of legal documents. It is generally effected by a letter rogatory, which is a formal request to issue a judicial order from a court in the state where proceedings are underway to a court in another state. 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 forwards the request to the foreign ministry in the destination state. The foreign ministry then forwards the documents to the local court. The local court then makes an order to allow for the service. Once service is made, a certificate of service 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.
The Hague Service Convention established a more simplified means for parties 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. 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), and a certificate of service.
The main benefits of the Hague Service Convention over letters rogatory is that it is faster (requests generally take two to four months rather than six months to one year), it uses standardised forms which should be recognised by authorities in other states, and it is cheaper (in most cases) because service can be effected by a local attorney without hiring a foreign attorney to advise on foreign service procedures.
The Hague Service Convention does not prohibit a receiving state from permitting international service by methods otherwise authorised by domestic law. For example, a state could allow for service directly by mail or by personal service. States which permit parties to use these alternative means of service make a separate designation in the documents they file upon ratifying or acceding to the Convention.
Definition of court officers
Service by mail
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 states that have authorised this channel upon ratifying or acceding to 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. In the United States, some courts interpret this provision to permit service by mailing documents directly to individuals; some jurisdiction in the United States, such as Florida, allow marriage license by mail to have an apostile attached to meet the requirements of authentication others hold that the provision only authorises sending, but not serving, documents by mail. The European Court of Justice and court in Greece and Canada have interpreted the provision to permit formal service by mail. Other states, including Germany, Switzerland, and South Korea, require incoming service to be effected exclusively through the state's central authority.
Relation with other instruments
Under the convention, states may conclude different agreements between them that take precedence over the convention. Thus, within the European Union (except for Denmark) other rules are applied instead of the Convention.
As of September 2014, 68 states are contracting parties of the Hague Service Convention. They include 54 of the 73 Hague Conference on Private International Law member states in addition to other states.
|State party||Signed||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[A]||—||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[B]||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[C]||10 December 1965||17 November 1967||10 February 1969|
|United States[D]||15 November 1965||24 August 1967||10 February 1969|
|Venezuela||—||29 October 1993||1 July 1994|
- The Convention entered into force on 1 November 2010 for all of Australia's external territories.
- The Convention entered into force on 27 July 1986 for Aruba.
- The Convention entered into force on 19 July 1970 for Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Jersey, Montserrat, the Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. It entered into force on 2 October 1982 for Anguilla.
- The Convention entered into force for the Northern Mariana Islands on 30 May 1994.
- "United States of America – Central Authority & practical information". Hague Conference on Private International Law. Retrieved 26 September 2014.
- "Preparation of Letters Rogatory". United States Department of State. Retrieved 26 September 2014.
- "Convention of 15 November 1965 on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters: Status table". Hague Conference on Private International Law. Retrieved 26 September 2014.
- "Extension of Application of the Convention of 15 November 1965 on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters to Australian External Territories". Hague Conference on Private International Law. Retrieved 2015-04-22.
- "Extension of Application of the Convention of 15 November 1965 on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters to Aruba". Hague Conference on Private International Law. Retrieved 2015-04-22.
- "Extension of Application of the Convention of 15 November 1965 on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters to British Territories". Hague Conference on Private International Law. Retrieved 2015-04-22.
- "Extension of Application of the Convention of 15 November 1965 on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands". Hague Conference on Private International Law. Retrieved 2015-04-22.