Hague Service Convention: An Experienced Foreign Law Attorney to Help You Abroad
Foreign law can be exceptionally complicated to understand for both clients and American attorneys who do not frequently practice it.
It is critical to have a foreign law case handled by an experienced lawyer who is dedicated to understanding the various laws and regulations abroad.
Failure to properly address matters of foreign law can result in the inadmissibility of evidence in court or even a case dismissal.
Do You Need a Hague Service Convention Lawyer?
Proper Service of Process Is Critical to Foreign Law Cases
One of the most important parts of ensuring a successful foreign law case is the service of process.
There are many different forms of service of process, and the accepted forms differ from territory to territory.
One service of process is the Hague Service Convention, and it has proved exceptionally valuable in many cases involving foreign jurisdictions.
Issues That Arise When Americans Serve Process in a Foreign Jurisdiction
In order for an American to successfully serve process, a service method must be chosen that meets due process standards as outlined in the constitution.
However, not all of the constitution-approved methods of service of process are accepted overseas.
Of the methods that are constitutional, one must be chosen that is consistent with the local laws of the foreign territory.
Issues That Arise When Foreign Residents Serve Process in the United States
The issue of perfecting service of process becomes even more challenging when a foreign resident attempts to serve process to a litigant in the United States.
Not only does a foreign litigant have to ensure that the service of process satisfies their own local laws, they must ensure that it meets U.S. constitutional due process standards and the laws of the specific state in which the litigant resides.
Additionally, it is exceptionally difficult for a foreign resident to find U.S. officials who are willing to help with the service of process.
What Is the Hague Service Convention?
Its creation significantly changed the way service of process was completed between the U.S. and all other signatory nations and established a compulsory plan for the “effective, expeditious, and inexpensive service of legal documents abroad.”
Simply put, the Hague Service Convention allows American and international litigants to choose from a variety of service of process methods, provided that the method is compatible with the local laws of the receiving territory.
The Convention also provides guidance as to which service of process methods are not permitted, and it controls the judicial granting of and relief from default judgments in order to establish due process in each territory.
The Convention applies whenever “there is occasion to transmit a judicial or extrajudicial document for service abroad.” It does not apply in cases that are outside of civil or commercial matters.
How Service of Process Works Under the Hague Service Convention
There are generally three ways that a litigant can complete service of process under the Hague Service Convention:
- Every nation has put in place a “Central Authority” that a foreign litigant can use to serve process through. Service of process through the Central Authority is the primary method of service under the Convention.
- Under the Convention, a foreign litigant may use any service of process method, such as mail or diplomatic, provided that the laws of the receiving nation do not directly contradict it.
- The Convention also allows foreign litigants to serve process using any service of process method that has been approved by the foreign jurisdiction through the nation’s laws or through previous international treaties or agreements.
Understanding the Hague Service Convention can be extraordinarily difficult, especially if you have not dealt with matters of foreign law in the past.
Speaking with an experienced foreign service law attorney is absolutely imperative to ensure successful service of process.
State Laws are Preempted by the Hague Service Convention
One important factor to understand about the Hague Service Convention is that it is considered the “supreme law of the land” under the United States Constitution.
Article VI, second clause, of the U.S. Constitution states that:
This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.
This means that no state can oppose the service of process methods that are executed correctly under the Hague Service Convention.
In many cases, the Convention also preempts federal laws in cases where federal laws conflict with the treaty.
When to Contact a Veteran Foreign Service Law Attorney
Perfecting service of process is one of the most important aspects of ensuring that you will be able to pursue litigation in a foreign territory.
Whether you are an American looking to serve process in a foreign jurisdiction or you are a foreign resident who is looking to serve process in the United States, it is critical that you have seasoned legal guidance.
At the Foreign Service Law Office, we have years of experience helping clients establish proper service of process in a variety of jurisdictions abroad.
We also assist other lawyers and law firms with questions of foreign law, or who need assistance when a case unexpectedly turns foreign.
Don’t wait to get the legal guidance you need in a case that deals with foreign law matters.
The Foreign Service Law Office can give you the confidence needed to pursue litigation in foreign jurisdictions. You will know that your service of process has been perfected and is admissible to both international and domestic courts.