International Service of Process : Central Authority
Explanations of some different methods to serve judicial and extrajudicial documents abroad.
There are several ways to serve legal documents abroad.
These are outlined in the 1965 Hague Convention on Service Abroad of Judicial and Extra-Judicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters and also in EC Regulation 1393/2007.
The options include:-
Service through the Central Authority
Service by mail, fax or email
Direct service via local private process server
Service by a qualified legal professional
Service through the Central Authority, typically the government of the country where the process is to be served, is the formal route of the Hague Convention and is a free service. However whilst the service in itself is free there are various processes that will need to be paid. Translation of the paperwork into the language of the country where the document is to be served is one such service and is usually to be carried out by a certified court translator. According to Article 5 of the Convention service can be denied if the documents are not translated and incorrect translation can result in the quashing of service.
Another potential expense is payment to the Court bailiff, in the appropriate currency, who will serve the documents after an official of the Central Authority has inspected the documents for legality and conformity to local laws. In a number of countries it is common for the service of documents to be voluntary and the defendant given the option of refusing service.
So although service through the central authority is nominally free there can be expense involved and the process can be lengthy.
Options 2, 3 and 4 come under Article 10 of the Convention which states:
Provided the State of Destination does not object, the present Convention shall not interfere with – the freedom to send judicial documents, by postal channels, directly to persons abroad, the freedom of judicial officers, officials or other competent persons of the State of origin to effect the 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 the service of judicial documents directly through the judicial officers, officials or other competent persons of the State of destination.
In fact several countries have opted out of one or more of the methods of service provided in Article 10.