What does the Hague Service Convention do for Service of Process?

This is the second article of our knowledge base series addressing international service of process. In this article we address the Hague Service Convention and its impact on the International service of process and how ABC Legal can support your international case.

What is the Hague Service Convention?

Signed the 15th day of November, 1965, 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 adopted in The Hague, Netherlands by member countries of The Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH).

The intention of this treaty is to give litigants a reliable and efficient means to serve documents internationally on parties living in, or operating in other countries. In the United States, the convention applies to all civil or commercial matters where there is occasion to transmit a judicial or extrajudicial document for service abroad where the address of the person to be served is known.

What are the origins of the Hague Service Convention?

International business, travel and trade have become customary in the 21st century. Advances in technology mean it’s now easier to live and work from anywhere on the planet than ever before. So naturally, service of process in foreign countries has become relatively commonplace. However, before the Hague Service Convention was passed in 1965, service of process between the United States and foreign litigants was a judicial nightmare. Perhaps it was the revolutionary character of the 1960’s that moved the populous to establish three highly important expediting procedures. Regardless, the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters is arguably seen as the most significant multilateral treaty of its time.  

Can you tell me about the basics of the Hague Service Convention and how it works?

When the Hague Service Convention was drafted in 1965, the authors aimed to establish a simplistic means by which parties in one country could serve parties in another. However, they were concerned about countries using their civil and commercial judicial processes against each other. So, the treaty had to ensure service of process was not only possible, but prohibited abuse for unethical purposes.

To promote proper ethical and judicial use, The Hague Conference on Private International Law enacted the 1965 Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Matters. 

According to Article 5 of the Convention, service under the Hague Service Convention must comply with the rules in both the plaintiff and defendant’s jurisdictions.

An obvious improvement over the process prior to 1965, the convention requires each contracting countries to designate a central authority to accept all incoming requests for service. Once the request is received by the central authority in the receiving country, service of process can be set up, usually through local courts following their local jurisdiction and regulations. If, and when service is completed, this same central authority will send a certificate of service to the judicial officer who made the request.

A current list of contracting parties to the Hague Service Convention can be found here.

What is ABC Legal's involvement with the Hague Service Convention?

ABC Legal has been awarded the contract to execute service of process and extrajudicial documents that come into the United States from foreign countries by the US Department of Justice a fourth consecutive time this year. ABC Legal, acting on behalf of the U.S. Central Authority, remains the only recognized service of process provider to receive requests for service submitted in accordance with the Hague Service Convention, the Inter-American Convention, and letters rogatory service requests through diplomatic channels for civil and/or commercial matters. As it relates to service on private individuals and companies under this contract, ABC Legal shall perform the service-related activities of the U.S. Central Authority.

What are the requirements under the Hague Service Convention?

Incoming requests for service pursuant to the Hague Service Convention must be in English, transmitted in duplicate, accompanied by the Mandatory Form, and include a payment or proof of payment. 

Outgoing requests for service pursuant to the Hague Service Convention may be transmitted directly from a person or entity within the United States competent to forward service requests (i.e., any court official, any attorney, or any other person or entity authorized by the rules of the court) to the foreign Central Authority and do not have to go through ABC Legal. 

For more information on the Hague Service Convention, please visit the Service Section on the Hague Conference on Private International Law’s website.  Additional guidance is available through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Judicial Assistance website, specifically in the OIJA Guidance on Service Abroad in U.S. Litigation.

Trusted by the US Department of Justice, ABC Legal has the experience and capabilities to translate and certify your legal documents while maintaining the same level of customer service you’ve come to expect from us. Look to ABC Legal’s outstanding team of professionals to fully execute your international process of service needs.

How do I initiate an international service of process request?

You can start your international service of process request now by visiting ABC Legal’s International Service Page.

Where can I learn more about other regulations impacting international service of process?

This is the second article of our knowledge base series addressing international service of process.

  • Screen Shot 2020-06-18 at 7.18.37 PMIn part one of this series we highlighted that the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) just awarded ABC Legal Services the contract to exclusively serve process and extrajudicial documents that come into the United States from foreign countries. 
  • In part two we answer questions around the Hague Service Convention and its impact on international service of process. 
  • Part three addresses the impact of the Inter-American Convention (IACAP) and its limited impact on International Service of Process between countries of the Americas.
  • In part four we cover letters rogatory or letters of request.

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